Herpes Information - Herpes Testing
Genital herpes is a disease caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) usually causes oral herpes. Symptoms are commonly known as cold sores or fever blisters.
Type 2 (HSV-2) usually causes genital herpes. When it's active, it travels to the surface of the infected area and makes copies of itself, this is called shedding. It is during this time that the virus can rub off onto another person. Then the virus travels back down the nerve, where it lies dormant for a while.
Who Gets Herpes
About one-fifth of all people aged 12 and up in the U.S. are infected with the HSV-2 virus that causes genital herpes, but as many as 90% don't know it. Experts estimate 50% to 80% of adults have oral herpes. One in four women compared with one in five men are infected with genital herpes. One reason may be that the virus can infect a woman's genitals more easily than it can a man's. It becomes more common as people age and the more sex partners people have.
How is Herpes Spread
HSV-1 is usually passed from person to person by kissing. HSV-1 can also spread from the mouth to the genitals during oral sex. If this happens, it becomes a case of genital herpes.
HSV-2 is most often passed by vaginal sex and anal sex. But just as HSV-1 can infect the genitals and cause genital herpes, HSV-2 can pass from one person's genitals to another person's mouth, resulting in oral herpes.
Symptoms of Herpes
Symptoms of HSV typically appear as a blister or as multiple blisters on or around the mouth, genitals or rectum. The blisters break, leaving tender sores. Many people with HSV never have any symptoms or they mistake the symptoms for some other skin irritation like insect bites, ingrown hairs, or pimples.