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Genital Herpes Health Center

Overview & Facts

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About one in five U.S. adults and teens have had a genital herpes infection -- and most don’t know it. Learn about the herpes simplex virus and how to lower your risk.

What Is Genital Herpes?

Genital herpes is an infection of the genitals, buttocks, or anal area caused by herpes simplex virus (HSV). Most genital herpes is caused by HSV type 2. Yet as people begin to have sex at younger ages the herpes type 1 virus has increasingly been shown to also cause genital herpes.

Genital herpes is a chronic, lifelong viral infection. At least 50 million persons in the United States have genital HSV infection.


Genital herpes is a highly contagious infection usually spread through intercourse, but it can be passed through oral or anal sex as well. Learn about it in this sexual health article.

Are You at Risk?

STDs can increase the risk of HIV. People with genital herpes have at least twice the risk of becoming infected with HIV if exposed to it than those without it.  Read more about herpes and HIV infection.

Lots of risk factors can increase your risk of genital herpes. Stress, fatigue, and being a woman are herpes risk factors, read more.


Practicing safe sex by using a condom is just one. Some honesty helps, too.

Getting information on genital herpes is one way to deal with your feelings.

For those whose partners have been infected, answers to some common questions.

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