October 17, 2022

What are Herpes?

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herpes virus HSV-1 and HSV-2
Herpes: HSV-1 and HSV-2 | Image by John Hopkins Medicine

What are Genital Herpes?

According to Planned Parenthood, “more than half of Americans have oral herpes and about 1 out of 6 Americans have genital herpes” (What Is Herpes?, n.d.). There are two types of genital herpes which are herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). It is spread often during anal, oral, vaginal or oral sex. Kissing is another way it can spread. 

Oral herpes often caused by HSV-1 can lead to fever blisters and cold sores around the throat, mouth, and lips. Genital herpes, often caused by HSV-2 are found around the genitals such as the vagina, vulva anus, scrotum, cervix, and penis. 


There are different ways can spread which include:

  • Skin to skin contact
  • Sexual intercourse
  • Kissing
  • Saliva
  • Non-sexual ways
    • Parent who have cold sores contact a child by pecking them on the lips
    • Mother passing genital herpes to their baby during childbirth
    • Touching a herpes sore and then touching different areas of your body without washing your hands


Most people do not have symptoms but some include:

  • Blisters on around on different parts of the body which are called “outbreaks”
  • Flu-like symptoms
    • Body aches
    • Fever
    • Swollen glands
  • Burning
  • Itching
  • Tingling
  • Pain in buttocks, legs, and back

Treatment and Prevention

Unfortunately, there is no known cure, however, there are medicines that can “prevent or shorten outbreaks” (Std Facts – Genital Herpes, 2022).

How to Prevent the Spread

  • Transparency with sexual partner(s)
  • Abstinence
  • Condoms

It’s Fetch is a community that provides a safe space for members to discuss health and wellness topics. We provide access to archived health related content, note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content shared, regardless of date should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

-Written by Karen Manalac


Genital herpes. (2021, August 8). https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/herpes-hsv1-and-hsv2/genital-herpes

Std facts—Genital herpes. (2022, June 7). https://www.cdc.gov/std/herpes/stdfact-herpes.htmWhat is herpes? | genital herpes vs oral herpes. (n.d.). Retrieved September 19, 2022, from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/stds-hiv-safer-sex/herpes

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