Genital herpes? It’s not what you think.

It is misunderstood. But having it is normal.

We help people to get the facts straight.

This is what other ‘herpes’ sites don’t tell you:

(For the related condition, herpes zoster, please go to the Shingles Support Society page.)

  1. Genital herpes is caused by a herpes simplex virus (type 1 or type 2) – nearly everyone (70%) will catch at least one type, sooner or later.
  2. Most don’t know they have it: 1 in 5 will have no symptoms; 3 in 5 will have mild symptoms so are unlikely to be diagnosed; 1 in 5 will have obvious symptoms and will be diagnosed.
  3. These viruses are generally unimportant and do not affect future health or fertility.
  4. The word ‘incurable’ is used to make it seem important when it isn’t.
  5. Some people get recurrences – we can advise on how these can be reduced and stopped.
  6. It’s not the only infection that stays with us – chickenpox, glandular fever and many other infections also hide in the body. Nobody makes a fuss about them.

Other web sites exaggerate the worst cases and tell you herpes is serious. Don’t be fooled. You don’t have to worry about it. Join the HVA to get lots of information and get it in proportion. Professor George Kinghorn, a Sexual Health consultant in Sheffield, says: “What I am suggesting to you is that to be infected with a herpes simplex virus is a state of normality. We tend to make this into a big deal instead of to say that to be infected with herpes virus is something that happens to all adults, some with symptoms and some of us without.”  Read more.

Important: If you have not been diagnosed, do not jump to conclusions! Find out what you have by going to a Sexual Health (Genitourinary Medicine) Clinic. There is one at most general hospitals or search here. We cannot diagnose what might be affecting you by email or on the telephone helpline.

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The more you know, the less you worry

There are eight human herpes viruses.  They cause different infections.  Also, every animal species that has been investigated has its own herpes virus: cat, carp, elephant, horse…  What these viruses all have in common is the ability to hide in the body without causing symptoms, and then reappear later. They are also generally ‘self-limiting’ which means they get better without treatment. Read more about all HHV family of viruses that affect humans.


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Health care information you can trust. The Information Standard. Certified Member.This page was written under the Information Standard rules.  It was issued on 19/12/2014 and will be reviewed no later than 19/12/2017.  Full references for the statements made can be sent on request.

The Information Standard states: The HVA shall hold responsibility for the accuracy of the information they publish and neither the Scheme Operator nor the Scheme Owner shall have any responsibility whatsoever for costs, losses or direct or indirect damages or costs arising from inaccuracy of information or omissions in information published on the website on behalf of the HVA.  Disclaimer: note that the blog and other personal experience stories are excluded from the scope of IS certification.

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