- HSV stands for Herpes Simplex Virus which causes genital herpes
- It's the same family of viruses that causes cold sores (oral herpes) around the mouth
- Like cold sores, there is no cure and it can cause distressing and very unpleasant symptoms throughout an infected person's life
How is it passed on?
Genital herpes is passed on by...
- intimate skin to skin contact with an infected person
- having sex (vaginal, oral or anal) with an infected person
- kissing an infected person
- an infected pregnant mother to her baby
What are the symptoms?
In both men and women it causes:
- painful sores in the genital or anal areas
- potentially an itching or tingling sensation followed by fluid filled blisters which break down into sores
- pain when passing urine as it passes over the sores
- a flu-like illness with fever, backache, headache and swollen glands in the groins
What is the treatment?
Because genital herpes is caused by a virus, once a person is infected with it, they are infected lifelong. Treatment, in the form of tablets, help to make the symptoms better but do not cure the infection. For this reason, once a person is infected, genital sores tend to recur throughout their life, although may not be quite as severe as the first episode.
What to do if worried
If someone is concerned that they might have genital herpes, they should speak to their GP (family doctor) or attend a local (genitourinary) sexual health clinic.
For help or advice see the section called TALK on the Students page.
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