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Genital Herpes (HSV)

Genital herpes is a common STI caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV); Type 1 commonly appears around the mouth (cold sores) and Type 2
commonly appears on the genitals. Either type can occur in either area.

How is it passed on?

  • Direct skin-to-skin contact – including vaginal, anal or oral sex.

HSV can be passed on even when there are no visible sores / symptoms.


Often no symptoms, but may include:

  • stinging or tingling in the affected area around the genitals
  • painful blisters or itchy sores on the genitals
  • pain when peeing
  • flu-like symptoms (tiredness, muscular aches, swollen glands)

If symptoms do occur, they usually only last for about a week but they can come back.

How is it tested?

  • Physical examination of blisters or sores
  • Swab sample from a blister or sore

How is it treated?

  • Antiviral tablets can sometimes be helpful
  • Mild pain relieving medication
  • Creams to soothe irritation
  • Salt water bathing

How can I prevent getting it?

  • Avoid vaginal, anal or oral sex if blisters or sores are present – the virus is most infectious at this point.
  • Use a condom and/or dam during vaginal, anal or oral sex (condoms will reduce risk although they only protect the area being covered).

Genital Herpes