What Is Herpes
Herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the virus Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). It can occur on the skin around or sometimes inside the penis or external genitals, vagina or internal genitals, anus, and mouth. For many people, herpes is a skin condition that comes and goes without causing problems.
Herpes can be managed. It is a very common STI in British Columbia.
There are two types of herpes simplex virus: herpes simplex 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2).
HSV-1 is commonly found around the mouth and is often called “cold sores”. It can be passed orally by kissing and it can be passed to the genitals through oral sex. HSV-2 is commonly found in the genital area and is passed through vaginal and anal sex, but it can also be passed to the mouth through oral sex. It is uncommon for HSV-2 to be found on the lips, but it is becoming more common to find HSV-1 in the genital area. Both types are sometimes passed to other areas of the body through skin-to-skin contact.
After the first outbreak, herpes stays in the body and becomes inactive. The virus may become active from time-to-time. When this happens, symptoms usually show up in the same general area as the first time. There is no way of knowing if, or how often, a person will have future outbreaks. For most people, outbreaks happen less often over time.