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Definition Herpes simplex is a viral infection that mainly affects the mouth or genital area. Causes, incidence, and risk factors There are two strains of herpes simplex viruses: Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) is usually associated with infections of the lips, mouth, and face. It is the most common herpes simplex virus and many people develop it in childhood. HSV-1 often causes sores (lesions) inside the mouth, such as cold sores (fever blisters), or infection of the eye (especially the conjunctiva and cornea). It can also lead to infection of the lining of the brain (meningoencephalitis). It is transmitted by contact with infected saliva. By adulthood, 30 - 90% of people will have antibodies to HSV-1. The likelihood of childhood infection is higher among those with lower socioeconomic status. Herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) is usually sexually transmitted. Symptoms include genital ulcers or sores. However, some people with HSV-2 have no symptoms. Up to 30% of adults in the U.S. have a...
Article updated and reviewed by David Aronoff, M.D., Assistant Professor, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Michigan Medical School on May 9, 2005. herpes simplex virus (HSV) and is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). There are two types of HSV, HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 is usually responsible for cold sores ( fever blisters) of the lips and mouth. HSV-2 is the one that most commonly causes genital herpes . The infection causes painful, ulcerative sores on the genitals in both men and women. However, HSV-1 can cause genital herpes, and HSV-2 can cause cold sores. Genital herpes is common. In the United States, one out of five of the total adolescent and adult population is infected with HSV. Herpes is spread by direct contact with an infected person. For example, if you have genital herpes and have sexual intercourse, you can give your partner genital herpes. If you have oral herpes , you can give your partner oral herpes while kissing, and you can also give i...
Approximately 10 percent of all adults in the United States have genital herpes according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey [cdc.gov]. Although many people believe that a diagnosis of genital herpes means you must give up sex and intimate contact forever, this is not true. You may need to take certain precautions or take medication to help suppress an outbreak and prevent transmitting herpes to your sexual partner. Learning about genital herpes and understanding the myths and facts about herpes can help you take better care of yourself and help protect your partner.
Myth: You can't spread herpes unless you can see blisters.
This is true of oral herpes but is not true for genital herpes. This type of herpes is often unnoticeable and can still be spread even when you do not have any symptoms.
Myth: A cold sore on your mouth can't cause genital herpes.
If you have oral sex with someone with a cold sore, you can develop herpes and if you have geni...
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