Genital herpes can cause serious or fatal infections in newborns if the mother is shedding the virus at the time of delivery. The virus also makes it easier for a person to transmit and get HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
What Causes Genital Herpes?
A virus called herpes simplex virus (HSV) causes herpes. There are two strains of the virus. HSV-2 is the most common cause of genital herpes. HSV-1, which causes the cold sores or fever blisters many people get on their lips, can also cause genital herpes.
The virus can be spread through both vaginal and anal intercourse as well as by oral sex. The virus is spread most easily by coming into contact with a herpes ulcer. However, the virus can also be spread from an infected person who does not have any signs or symptoms of infection; this is referred to as asymptomatic shedding.