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Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). The virus can cause sores on the genital or rectal area, buttocks, and thighs. Genital herpes can be acquired through intercourse and oral sex. The virus can spread even when sores are not present. Mothers can also infect their babies during childbirth.

Symptoms of herpes are called outbreaks. Genital herpes sores usually appear near the area where the virus has entered the body. The sores turn into blisters, become itchy and painful, and then heal. Sometimes individuals do not know they have herpes because they have no symptoms or very mild symptoms. The virus can be more serious in newborn babies or in individuals with weak immune systems.

Most individuals have outbreaks several times a year. Over time, outbreaks occur less often and the symptoms become milder. The virus, however, remains in your body for life.

Medication does not cure genital herpes, but it can help the body fight the virus. Medication can help lessen symptoms, decrease outbreaks, and lower the risk of passing the virus to others. Correct usage of latex condoms can reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of catching or spreading herpes.

NIH: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

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