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What is genital herpes?


Genital herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STI), and is caused by the herpes simplex virus – the same virus that can cause facial cold sores.

There are two types of herpes simplex that can cause genital herpes:

  • Type 1 (HSV-1) is carried by around 70% of adults in developed countries and in the past has mostly caused cold sores
  • Type 2 (HSV-2) is carried by 12.5% (1 in 8) of the Australian population and is generally associated with genital herpes

Now, partly because oral sex is more common, the traditional distinctions between the two strains are breaking down and both types of herpes simplex virus can appear both orally and genitally.

The good news is that both strains respond to treatment with antiviral therapy.