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Genital Herpes Health Center

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Genital Herpes Glossary of Terms



A virus, such as herpes, is either active or dormant. When active, the virus is replicating and perhaps shedding and causing symptoms. When dormant, it is hiding somewhere in the body, not replicating. HSV-2 usually hides; that is, it escapes attack from the immune system in clusters of nerve tissue near the base of the spine when it is dormant. When it's active, it travels up a nerve to the surface of the skin.

E pisodic therapy

Episodic therapy for genital herpes involves taking antiviral drugs for a few days as soon as the patient feels an outbreak of symptoms coming on (what doctors call "prodromal" symptoms) or within one day after the symptoms appear.

Fever blister

Fever blister is another common name for a cold sore.


Genital herpes affects not only the reproductive organs, but also the anus, perineum (skin between the anus and reproductive organs), and inner thighs, in addition to the penis shaft, foreskin, urethra, glans (head), and scrotum of a man, and the vagina, cervix, labia, clitoris, and urethra of a woman.


HSV stands for herpessimplex virus. There are two types: Type 1 usually infects the mouth and type 2 usually infects the genitals. The two types are referred to as HSV-1 and HSV-2.


Latex rubber comes from a tree. When you're advised to use a latex condom, it means you should not use "lambskin" condoms, which are made from sheep intestines. Latex is a strong, flexible material. It's also a good barrier to most sexually transmitted viruses, because viruses are too big to pass through the microscopic holes in the material. The animal tissue from which some condoms are made has microscopic holes big enough for some of these pathogens to pass through. Condoms made of polyurethane -- a synthetic material -- are a good alternative to latex for people who have a latex allergy.

Mucous membrane

This is tissue that lines a body cavity and contains mucous-secreting glands. The linings of the mouth, the vagina, rectum, and urethra are mucous membranes.

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