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Genital Herpes (cont.)

Genital Herpes Causes

Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two types: HSV-1 and HSV-2. Most genital herpes infections are caused by HSV-2. HSV-1 is the usual cause of what most people call "fever blisters" in and around the mouth and can be transmitted from person to person through kissing. Less often, HSV-1 can cause genital herpes infections through oral sexual contact. The genital sores caused by either virus look the same.

  • Genital herpes is spread by direct contact with an infected person. Sexual intercourse and oral sex are the most common methods of spreading genital herpes. Any type of skin-to-skin contact, however, is capable of spreading herpes.
  • Although anyone can spread the disease, transmission from an infected male to a female partner is more common than spread from an infected female to a male partner.

Note: People with herpes may spread the disease even if they do not realize they have an infection. Furthermore, there is strong evidence that people with herpes can transmit infection even while their disease appears to be inactive and no sores can be visibly seen.

  • Many people remember having an episode of genital herpes when it occurs. Many of those infected fail to recognize the symptoms or have no symptoms at all. It is not clear whether these people never had an initial herpes outbreak or whether they never noticed a mild infection.
    In these individuals genital herpes is still contagious, and they may have additional outbreaks, nonetheless.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/4/2014

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