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HealthInfo Canterbury

Genital herpes

Genital herpes is very common. Around one in three adults have herpes simplex virus (HSV), the virus that causes genital herpes, but up to 80% of them do not know they have the infection because they have few or no symptoms.

The virus can be transmitted from a cold sore on one partner's mouth to the other partner's genitals during oral sex.

Once you have genital herpes, it can come back again, even if the symptoms have gone away for a long time. This is called a flare-up. You can use an antiviral treatment called aciclovir to control a flare-up, and it's best to start using it as soon as you notice the symptoms. Using condoms can reduce the risk of passing on the virus, but they do not get rid of it completely.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Updated September 2016.

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Page reference: 53202

Review key: HIGEH-53202