Both situations can happen.
If someone gets a primary outbreak you would typically start developing symptoms between 2-21 days (average 6 days) after you were exposed to the herpes simplex virus (HSV).
It is also possible for someone to get a non-primary outbreak as well. This means that you had HSV passed to you in the past, but you did not develop symptoms when this first happened or the symptoms were so mild you did not notice them. It is possible to have HSV for several years before noticing your first outbreak.
Have a look at our HSV page for more information.
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