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Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). It is very similar to herpes that appear on the hands and face (cold sores), but is instead found on or around the penis, anus or vagina areas.

Two types of herpes virus, HSV-1 and HSV-2, can both cause genital herpes.

Primary infection with genital herpes can often be very severe. You may experience blisters and inflammation at the site of infection and feel generally unwell. It is common to have symptoms of burning when passing urine.

The virus then remains dormant and reactivates from time to time to cause recurrences.

Men and women aged 20-24 years old are most commonly affected by genital herpes as anyone who has sex can catch them. People who have unprotected sex are most at risk, especially those who have more than one sexual partner or change partners regularly.



Some people do not have any symptoms but most people have reoccurring symptoms such as itching, tingling or pain in the genital area, followed by blisters or sores. In women, they occur on the vulva, the vagina, or around the anus or buttocks. In men they may occur anywhere around the genitalia or anus.



Primary episodes of genital herpes are treated with antiviral drugs, which reduce the length and severity of the infection. Most recurrences are mild so do not require any treatment. Antiviral drugs can be used for severe recurrences. People with frequent or severe recurrences can have continuous treatment with antiviral drugs to prevent symptoms. There is no cure for the herpes simplex virus. The infection is lifelong. 

If the infection is left untreated, most people will eventually stop having recurrences


Source HPA Herpes Fact Sheet

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