Genital herpes is a common viral infection caused by the herpes simplex virus. New cases of genital herpes are most common among women and men over 20.

Genital herpes is passed from one person to another through unprotected vaginal sex, anal sex or oral sex (kissing, licking or sucking someone’s genitals). It can also be passed on through close genital contact (when the skin touches).

An initial episode of genital herpes may be followed by the virus being inactive in the body for a while before becoming active again and causing further recurrence.

How to recognise it

Symptoms of herpes simplex are usually tingling or itching on or around the genital area followed by the appearance of small, painful blisters. Other symptoms include general flu-like symptoms such as headache, backache or a temperature and burning sensation when passing urine.

The Herpes virus is at its most infectious just before, during or just after an outbreak, when blisters or sores are present.

However, lots of people who have the virus but don’t show any symptoms, and Herpes can only be diagnosed when someone is showing signs of the virus.

How it’s treated

As yet no cure is available for genital herpes, but an anti-viral drug (Aciclovir) can reduce the severity of the first and recurrent episodes as well as the length of the first episode. It is important to get treatment as soon as possible for it to have an effect on symptoms.

Most people will only have one or two episodes of genital herpes but some may have more regular recurrences.

This information is sourced from Brook.

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