Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the herpes simplex viruses type 1 (HSV-1) or type 2 (HSV-2). Most genital symptoms of herpes is caused by HSV-2. Most individuals have no or only minimal signs or STDs symptoms from HSV-1 or HSV-2 infection. When signs do occur, they typically appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals or rectum. The symptoms of herpes blisters break, leaving tender ulcers (sores) that may take two to four weeks to heal the first time they occur. Typically, another symptoms of herpes outbreak can appear weeks or months after the first, but it almost always is less severe and shorter than the first outbreak. Although the infection can stay in the body indefinitely, the number of outbreaks tends to decrease over a period of years.
Results of a nationally representative study show that genital herpes infection is common in the United States. Nationwide, at least 45 million people ages 12 and older, or one out of five adolescents and adults, have had symptoms of herpes genital HSV infection. Over the past decade, the percent of Americans with genital herpes infection in the U.S. has decreased.