Genital Herpes

Herpes is a virus that is spread by having sex (oral, vaginal, or anal) with an infected individual.

How common is herpes?
Herpes is an extremely common sexually transmitted disease (STD). Twenty-four million people in the United States are thought to be infected, and there are an estimated 776,000 new cases of oral-genital disease per year.



Chart showing the number of first-time doctor visits for herpes simplex type 2.

The doctor says I have type 2 herpes. What is that?
There are two major types of herpes, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 herpes is often called oral herpes or cold sores. It generally infects the mouth, but can cause genital infections in some cases. Type two herpes is known as genital herpes, and causes most of the cases of genital infections involving herpes, but it can also cause oral symptoms like type one herpes

How do I know I have herpes?
Most cases of herpes don’t have any symptoms initially, so you may not know you are infected. Periodically, you may have an “outbreak”, during which sores will develop on your mouth, genitals, or rectum. The sores are painful and take a long time to heal. You may also have a fever, swollen lymph nodes, and body aches when your first outbreak occurs. Without treatment, the outbreaks will reoccur periodically, but the repeated outbreaks will be less severe than the initial occurrence. 







How do I get rid of herpes?
There is no cure for herpes, but there are treatments that can help prevent outbreaks or make them less severe. Treatment can also make it less likely you will spread the disease to your sexual partner.

What is the treatment?
Your doctor will prescribe an antiviral drug to treat your outbreak. Your doctor may recommend that you take a daily antiviral dose to suppress the herpes virus and prevent recurrence of outbreaks, as well as make you less likely to spread the virus to your sexual partner.

Additional Notes:
Most people who have contracted one sexually transmitted disease have another STD. Your doctor will likely recommend that you be tested for other diseases you may have acquired. Your doctor will also recommend that your sexual partners get tested for sexually transmitted infections as well.



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2013. Incidence, Prevalence, and Cost of Sexually - 
   Transmitted Infections in the United States. CDC Fact Sheet [Internet]. [2013 Feb, cited 2016 Oct 30].   
   Available from:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2014. Genital Herpes - CDC Fact Sheet [Internet]. 
   Atlanta(GA):Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; [2016 May 19, cited 2016 Oct 31] . Available

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2015. Genital Herpes Statistics [Internet]. 
   Atlanta(GA):Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; [2016 Oct 24, cited 2016 Oct 30]. Available

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