Genital herpes is an infection of the genitals caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) and is the most common ulcerative sexually transmitted disease in the UK. There are two subtypes of the herpes simplex virus: HSV-1 (which causes facial herpes, including cold sores on the lips, but has increasingly been implicated in cases of genital herpes), and HSV-2 (which almost exclusively causes herpes on the genitals). Around 80% of people with genital herpes don’t even know they have it, as there are often no symptoms. However, even without symptoms, it’s possible to pass genital herpes on to a sexual partner because the virus may sometimes be present in your genital area. And once you get the herpes virus, it’s with you for life, which means you will have recurrent infections. Over-the-counter treatments for cold sores will not treat genital herpes, so smearing your genitals with Zovirax is an ineffective alternative to visiting your local GP or GUM clinic.
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