Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) causes a sore/blister on the genitals, anus or mouth.
After the first infection, it remains dormant in the body and is reactivated from time to time.
There are two types of HSV:
- HSV1 is usually found around the mouth and symptoms are commonly called cold sores
- HSV2 is usually found around the genitals and/or anus
Genital Herpes is transmitted by close genital contact with a sore and through oral, anal or vaginal sex. Condoms provide some protection but a herpes sore may be located somewhere that the condom does not cover.
Genital herpes is detected from a swab of the sore/blister or through a blood test to detect antibodies (antibodies takes 3 – 6 months to appear).
A cure is not available and once infected the virus will remain in your body. Antiviral medications aim to reduce the frequency, severity and reoccurrence of symptoms and include creams that are applied at the first indication of an impending outbreak (available from a pharmacy) and daily, long-term, oral medication (available through a prescription from a GP)
Most people with HSV2 have either no outbreaks or mild, infrequent outbreaks and people who have never been exposed to HSV1 have a higher risk of catching HSV2.