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Herpes simplex virus

for Veterans and the Public

Herpes simplex virus

Herpes simplex is caused by a virus. Symptoms include red, painful sores on the mouth ("fever blisters"), genitals, or anal area. Genital herpes is passed through sexual contact. Herpes on the mouth is easily spread through kissing. It can be spread to the genitals through oral sex. Although less common, the virus can be spread even if you don't have blisters. Safer sex (with latex barrier protection) can decrease the risk of infection.

Drugs are available to help herpes blisters heal, but there's no cure. Outbreaks may occur periodically for the rest of your life. Suppressive therapy with daily antiviral treatment can help reduce the number of outbreaks.

For more information on herpes, call the HELP line in Atlanta at 404-294-6364 or the National Herpes Hotline at 919-361-8488.