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How is Genital Herpes Spread? How do people get Genital Herpes?

HSV-1 and HSV-2 are transmitted through direct contact, including kissing, sexual contact (vaginal, oral, or anal sex), or skin-to-skin contact.

HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be found in and released from the sores that the viruses cause, but they also are released between outbreaks from skin that does not appear to have a sore. Generally, a person can only get HSV-2 infection during sexual contact with someone who has a genital HSV-2 infection. Transmission can occur from an infected partner who does not have a visible sore and may not know that he or she is infected.

Genital herpes can be transmitted with or without the presence of sores or other symptoms. It often is transmitted by people who are unaware that they are infected, or by people who do not recognize that their infection can be transmitted even when they have no symptoms.

HSV-1 can cause genital herpes, but it more commonly causes infections of the mouth and lips, so-called “fever blisters.” HSV-1 infection of the genitals can be caused by oral-genital or genital-genital contact with a person who has HSV-1 infection. Genital HSV-1 outbreaks recur less regularly than genital HSV-2 outbreaks.

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