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- What is genital herpes?
- How common is genital herpes?
- What are the signs and symptoms of genital herpes?
- What causes genital herpes, and how is it spread?
- How do you get genital herpes (transmission)?
- What kind of doctors treats genital herpes?
- How is genital herpes diagnosed?
- Is there a cure for genital herpes?
- Are home remedies or natural treatments effective for genital herpes?
- What medications treat and manage genital herpes?
- How is genital herpes managed during pregnancy?
- What is the prognosis for a person with genital herpes?
- Is there a link between genital herpes and HIV?
- Can genital herpes be prevented?
Quick GuideSTDs Pictures Slideshow: Facts About Sexually Transmitted Diseases
What is genital herpes?
Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by an infection with the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two types of herpes simplex virus.
- HSV-1 is most commonly associated with blisters and ulcers around the mouth known as cold sores.
- HSV-2 is associated with blistering lesions in genital areas that are exposed during sexual contact.
However, both types of herpes simplex virus can infect the mouth or the genital areas, meaning that genital contact with a cold sore on the mouth can lead to genital herpes. Likewise, kissing someone with a cold sore can spread the herpes simplex virus infection.
After the initial outbreak of herpes, the virus travels through the nerves and resides in nerve tissue within the body. Reactivations, or repeat occurrences of the blisters, can occur throughout an individual's lifetime. Among people aged 14 to 49, an estimated 1 out of every 6 people have the infection.
How common is genital herpes?
- Herpes simplex virus infection is very common.
- Among people aged 14 to 49, an estimated 1 out of every 6 people (15.5% of the population) have been infected with HSV-2, the virus that is predominantly responsible for genital herpes.
- Estimates suggest that in the US, 776,000 people become infected every year.
- The viral infection is more common in women than in men.
- Spread from men to women is known to occur more readily than from women to men.
- According to WHO estimates, HSV-1 infects 67% of all humans under the age of 50. The majority of infected people are not aware they are infected.