Genital herpes

Genital herpes (also called HSV infection) is a viral infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). It is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that may cause skin blisters and sores in the genital area, but often causes no visible symptoms.

It is possible to get genital herpes through sexual contact with an infected person even if he or she has no symptoms. After a person is infected for the first time, HSV stays in the body for life. While some people may have only a single outbreak of herpes, other people will have repeated outbreaks. Medicine can reduce the number and severity of herpes outbreaks, but it cannot cure the infection.

Last Updated: January 13, 2009

Author: Sandy Jocoy, RN

Medical Review: Joy Melnikow, MD, MPH - Family Medicine & Jeanne Marrazzo, MD, MPH - Infectious Disease

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