Health Questions and Answers

Question: What causes genital herpes?


Herpes infection is caused by one of two herpes simplex viruses, HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 more commonly causes perioral infection (“cold sores”), and HSV-2 is more commonly isolated in genital infections. HSV-1 infections of the genitals are less likely to recur. Like other herpesviruses (e.g., herpes zoster), infection with HSV is chronic. After the initial skin outbreak, the virus is dormant and can cause subsequent outbreaks.


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