What is Herpes?

Herpes is an infection caused by a virus. Genital Herpes infection often causes blisters or sores on genitals.

Who has it Herpes?

Genital Herpes is more common than a lot of people realize – about 1 in 5 people between 14 and 49 is infected. As many as 90% of people with Genital Herpes are unaware that they have the virus.

How do you get Herpes?

Any skin-to-skin touching with infected areas can pass along herpes, even if the person who has herpes doesn’t have any visible sores or other symptoms. Once you have herpes, the virus is always in your body, so it can pass by oral, vaginal, or anal sex.

What are the symptoms of Herpes?

Some people have no symptoms at all. But many people who have herpes get blisters or sores on their vagina, penis, thighs, or buttocks. These blisters or sores are different for everyone – some people only get them once; other people have "outbreaks" many times over their lifetime.

How do you test for Herpes?

If you have them, your doctor will look at your sores or blisters and maybe take a sample from them. If you don’t have symptoms your doctor can take a sample of blood to test for the herpes, although the results are not always clear-cut.

Can you get rid of Herpes? Are Herpes curable?

No – once you have herpes, you have the virus for the rest of your life. But there are medicines that help the sores heal more quickly and decrease your partners’ risk. Taking the medicine everyday can make the outbreaks less frequent.

How do you keep from getting Herpes?

The only method that is 100% effective in preventing STDs is abstinence, but if you’re sexually active, the best way to avoid herpes is by being mutually monogamous with someone who also does not have herpes. Condoms may reduce the risk of passing herpes to a partner, but since it can be passed by touching, condoms aren’t 100% effective.

What’s the worst that could happen?

You could pass it on to your partners, even if you don’t have sores or blisters when you have sex.

Herpes infection increases your likelihood of getting HIV. Pregnant women who have Herpes can pass it on to their babies during birth, which could make them really sick.

Rarely, when a person first catches herpes, the virus can spread to the spinal cord and brain.