What is Genital Herpes?
- A contagious viral infection transmitted through sexual contact.
- It is the most common cause of genital ulcers.
- Genital Herpes occurs worldwide, and is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the United States.
- More than 45 million people have Genital Herpes.
- Genital Herpes is caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV).
- There are two general types of this virus: HSV-1 and HSV-2.
- HSV-1 is considered primarily oral.
- HSV-2 is considered primarily genital.
- There is no cure for genital herpes, but it can be effectively treated.
- There are several medications currently being used to treat genital and oral herpes.
- Treatment is enhanced by keeping the affected area clean and dry.
- Care should be taken to avoid touching the sores, and sexual activity should be avoided until any sores are completely healed.
- Transmission can be prevented by avoiding sexual contact, including oral sex, whenever sores or blisters are present on the genitals, lips or mouth.
- Abstain from sexual activity until the sores have healed and completely disappeared.
- Herpes may be transmitted even when no symptoms are present.
- Condoms provide some protection during oral, vaginal and anal sex.
- Because Herpes is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, this protection is not 100% and herpes could still be transmitted if one partner was infected.
- Dental dams can also provide protection during oral sex performed on the vulva or anus.
- For more information on Herpes transmission during oral sex, please visit the Sexual Health page on Oral Sex.
- There are no long term health consequences of having the virus.
- The adult human is seldom seriously affected by genital herpes because it can be effectively treated.
- The virus may, however, be fatal to newborn infants.
- Herpes can be transmitted to a baby if the mother is having an outbreak during delivery.
Adapted from: www.cdc.gov/std/herpes/stdfact-herpes-detailed.htm