Genital Herpes

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    Alternative Names    

    Herpes – genital; Herpes simplex – genital; Herpesvirus 2; HSV-2


    Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted viral infection affecting the skin
    of the genitals.


    Herpes is caused by two viruses:

    – Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1)

    – Herpes simplex virus type 2

    HSV-1, the virus responsible for common cold sores, can be transmitted
    through fluids from the mouth. It is responsible for some cases of genital
    herpes cases. HSV can spread from the mouth to the genitals during oral sex.

    HSV-2 causes most of the genital herpes cases. HSV-2 can be spread through
    secretions from the mouth or genitals.

    Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is spread from one person to another by
    skin-to-skin contact. The virus is shed from visible sores, blisters, or a rash
    during outbreaks, but can also be shed from the affected area between outbreaks
    of symptoms.

    HSV is transmitted to the area of skin with which it comes into contact.
    There are also some cases by which other types of contact can spread HSV. For
    example, a variant of herpes, known as herpes gladiatorum, can be passed on
    during body contact sports, such as wrestling.

    Because the virus is transmitted through secretions from the mouth or genital
    tissue (mucosa), common sites of infection in men include:

    – Anus

    – Inner thighs

    – Scrotum

    – Shaft and head of the penis

    Common sites of infection in women include:

    – Anus

    – Cervix

    – Inner thighs

    – Labia

    – Vagina

    The mouth can also be a site of infection in both sexes.

    Research suggests that the virus can be transmitted even when there are no
    symptoms present, so that a sexual partner without obvious genital herpes sores
    can still transmit the illness. In fact, asymptomatic spread may actually
    contribute more to the spread of genital herpes than do active sores.


    For people with no prior contact with HSV-1 or HSV-2, initial infection
    involves both whole body (systemic) and local symptoms.

    Generalized symptoms include:

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