Learn About this Sexually Transmitted Infection


Written by
Home /  Resources /  Human Body /  STIs /  Herpes

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection that is caused by HSV-1 (herpes simplex virus type 1) or HSV-2 (herpes simplex virus type 2). The majority of population infected with genital herpes suffer from HSV-2 and typically show no or only minor symptoms (CDC, 2012). The herpes virus can affect other areas of the body, such as the mouth, and therefore is a fairly common STI. When the virus is present around the mouth it is commonly referred to as "cold sores" (eMedicineHealth, 2012). Reliable statistics for prevalence in North America aren’t available but it is estimated that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 8 men have been affected by this virus (WomensHealth, 2009).

How can I get Herpes?

Herpes is passed by coming in contact with someone who is currently experiencing an outbreak. It can be transferred by kissing someone who has cold sores or by touching the sores; any body part of yours that comes in contact with the infected area can transfer the virus to your genitals, mouth, or eyes. The virus may be passed at the beginning or end of an outbreak when sores are not seen (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2011).

Herpes Facts


Condom partially in wrapperAs with many of the contagious STIs, being armed with the appropriate knowledge and being aware is the first step to good prevention. The herpes virus cannot live long outside the body and can be killed with soap (Herpsite, 2012), so good sanitation of any and all toys is important.

Also the following tips should be kept in mind

  • Restrict your number of partners
  • Ensure all partners are undergoing regular examinations and STI testing
  • Practice safe sex methods during all sexual contact
  • Use dental dams during oral sex to prevent mouth to genital transmission
  • Properly clean all toys after each use with soap and warm water or the appropriate cleaner

Community Connections

Here are some pages that provide further information as well as forums for support

Herpes Virsus Assocation
Genital Herpes Online Support Group
HSV Singles

Written September 5, 2012 | Updated May 1, 2015
Share on Google+

Article References

CDC. (2012, 01 01). Genital Herpes - CDC Fact Sheet. Retrieved 09 3, 2012, from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/std/herpes/STDFact-Herpes.htm

eMedicineHealth. (2012). Cold Sores. Retrieved 09 02, 2012, from eMedicine Health: http://www.emedicinehealth.com/cold_sores/page2_em.htm

Herpsite. (2012). Genital Herpes Transmission - Risk - Latency - Viral Shedding. Retrieved 09 05, 2012, from Herpsite: http://www.herpesite.org/herpes-virus-infection-transmission-risk-shedding/

MedicineNet. (2012). Genital Herpes in Women. Retrieved 09 05, 2012, from MedicineNet: http://www.medicinenet.com/genital_herpes_in_women/page3.htm

MediResource. (2012). Genital Herpes. Retrieved 09 05, 2012, from MedBroadcast: http://www.medbroadcast.com/condition_info_details.asp?disease_id=246#.UERxcMFmSXs

Public Health Agency of Canada. (2011, 10 11). STI - Herpes. Retrieved 09 05, 2012, from Public Health Agency of Canada: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/std-mts/herpes-eng.php

PubMed Health. (2012). Genital Herpes. Retrieved 09 05, 2012, from PubMed Health: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001860/

WomensHealth. (2009, 08 10). Genital herpes fact sheet. Retrieved 09 02, 2012, from Women's Health: http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/genital-herpes.cfm

Image References

Someone else's art deserves recognition! The images presented in this article were borrowed from the following places:

Header Image: http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2010/05/26/health/consults26/consults26-blogSpan-v3.jpg | Retrieved May 2, 2015

Image 6: http://www.valtrexguide.com/Images/safe-sex.jpg | Retrieved September 5, 2012

Find Out How To Help