Genital herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the United States. It is caused by either herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 2 (HSV-2), a virus that almost exclusively causes genital infections, or HSV type 1 (HSV-1) which causes oral and lip infections (cold sores) and genital herpes. HSV-2 is estimated to infect more than 45 million US residents aged 14 to 49 years. HSV-1 now causes 10 to 20 percent of all new cases of genital herpes. Congential herpes (newborns infected during birth by an infected mother) is more than twice as common as congenital syphilis, and can be devastating to newborns. In addition there is a strong association between genital herpes infection and HIV type 1.
There is no cure and