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Herpes is a common STD and a lot of people who have it don’t even know. There is no cure for herpes, but there is treatment that can lessen symptoms and decrease the likelihood of passing it on to someone else.

Symptom Overview

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease cause by a herpes simplex virus (HSV). The most common HSV to cause genital herpes is HSV-2. HSV-1 most commonly causes cold sores.

People with genital herpes will typically have no symptoms until an “outbreak”. Outbreaks happen when blisters and/or sores develop on vagina, penis, thighs, or buttocks. Some people only have one outbreak. Some will have many outbreaks over their lifetime.


Genital Herpes is more common than a lot of people realize – about 1 in 5 people between 14 and 49 is infected. As many as 90% of people with Genital Herpes are unaware that they have the virus.


Any skin-to-skin touching with infected areas can pass along herpes, even if the person
who has herpes doesn’t have any visible sores or other symptoms. Once you have herpes, the virus is always in your body, so it can pass by oral, vaginal, or anal sex.


Herpes is diagnosed by taking a sample from a sore or lesion. Blood tests can also be used to detect antibodies.


Antiviral medications like acyclovir or valacyclovir can significantly help during an outbreak. Medicines can also be taken on a daily basis to prevent outbreaks in the future.

Living with It

Herpes can be effectively managed with proper counseling and medication. For people with frequent outbreaks, taking medication on a daily basis can significantly reduce the number of outbreaks and improve quality of life. Consistent and correct condom use can reduce the likelihood of spreading herpes to sex partners.

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