Herpes is an infection caused by HSV (herpes simplex virus). This virus affects the external genitalia, anal region, mucosal surfaces, and skin in other parts of the body.
Herpes is a long-term condition. However, many people never have symptoms even though they are carrying the virus.
Fast facts about herpes
There are two types of herpes simplex viruses: HSV-1 (herpes type 1, or oral herpes) and HSV-2 (herpes type 2, or genital herpes).
More than 50 percent of people in the United States have HSV-1.
Around 15.5 percent of people in the U.S. aged 14-49 have HSV-2.
It is impossible to get genital herpes from a toilet seat.
Those who do have symptoms during the initial period will usually notice them about 4 days after exposure (the average range is 2-12 days). The symptoms can be quite severe and may include:
pain and itching
tender, enlarged lymph nodes
pain when urinating
high temperature (fever)
malaise (feeling unwell)
cold sores around the mouth
blisters and ulceration on external genitalia, in the vagina, or on the cervix
When HSV is present on the surface of the skin of an infected person, it can easily be passed on to someone else through the moist skin that lines the mouth, anus, and genitals.
Infection can occur in the following ways:
having unprotected vaginal or anal sex
having oral sex with a person who gets cold sores
sharing sex toys
having genital contact with an infected person
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