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Diseases & Topics

Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by either the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) or, more commonly, type 2 (HSV-2). You can get genital herpes from a partner even if that person shows no signs of the infection. Most people with genital herpes infection do not know they have it. If symptoms do occur, they typically appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals or rectum. The blisters break, leaving tender ulcers (sores) that may take two to four weeks to heal the first time they occur.

Besides being embarrassing, genital herpes can cause recurrent painful genital sores in adults. In addition, genital HSV in a mother can lead to potentially fatal infections in her baby. Herpes can also make people more susceptible to HIV infection (the virus that causes AIDS), and it can make HIV-infected individuals more infectious.

There is no cure for herpes, but treatment is available to reduce symptoms and decrease the risk of transmission to a partner.

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