What is Herpes?

By Dave / January 3, 2007

Herpes is a Virus.

herpesGenerally, when people talk about herpes, they are usually referring to the HSV-1 or HSV-2 virus. These stand for Herpes Simplex Virus Type I and Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2.

HSV-1 and HSV-2 viruses often cause ‘genital herpes’ and ‘cold sores’.

However, there are other viruses inside the herpes family (aka. Herpesviridae). For example, chicken pox, shingles and Epstein-Barr are all the result of a herpes virus infection.

Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV) is responsible for both chicken pox and shingles.

CMV (cytomegalovirus) is responsible for the disease commonly known as ‘mono’.

There are over 100 different kinds of herpes viruses. Not all infect humans, but many do.

HSV-I and HSV-2



Since people often mean the HSV-1 and HSV-2 virus when they refer to herpes, the rest of this page will focus on those two.

Indeed, quite a few people have had or have a genital herpes infection. For people over 12 years old it is estimated that 1 in 5 people are infected with the herpes virus (genital herpes) in the United States.

Cold Sores and Genital Herpes


Some people have ‘cold sores’ that are most often a manifestation of the herpes simplex I virus (HSV-1). However, cold sores can also be a manifestation of herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2).

Conversely, genital herpes is mostly the result of HSV-2 but can also be caused by HSV-1.

Actually, a HSV-1 or HSV-2 outbreak can occur anywhere on the body, but the most common places are the genital and mouth areas.

herpes-simplex-Genital Herpes is almost always a result of sexual contact.

Some people don’t know they have herpes. They may have never had an outbreak. They carry the virus and infect others with it.

It is not necessary for a herpes ulcer to be visible for a person to pass on herpes. It can be passed via asymptomatic skin. (without a lesion or ulcer being visible or present).

However, some people develop painful and unattractive lesions. Usually the first outbreak is the worst with subsequent outbreaks being less severe.

Over several years the outbreaks can become more marginal.

The viruses themselves can live in the human body indefinitely.

A friend’s younger sister was only seventeen years old when she contracted herpes via her very first sexual contact with her boyfriend.

herpes-simplex-ICondoms may provide some protection, but unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee that all infected areas will be covered. So, even with the use of latex condoms, the spread of the disease cannot always be prevented.

A person should not have sexual contact with others during an outbreak, but keep in mind that even with no outbreak present the disease can still be spread to a partner.

Here are some resources that may be able to provide you with additional information about herpes:

National Herpes Hotline
(919) 361-8488

Genital Herpes Fact Sheet – An information packed page by the Center for Disease Control

STD information and referrals to STD Clinics
1-800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636)
TTY: 1-888-232-6348
In English, en Español

Stop Herpes Now, And From Coming Back [AFF] – Information from a Naturopathic Doctor – David Hogg, ND. Dr. Hogg discusses the foods that can help prevent outbreaks and foods that facilitate outbreaks. He also talks about herbs that may be useful.

Controlling Herpes Naturally [AFF] – A book that discusses diet and lifestyle changes and how it relates to herpes outbreaks. It also talks about boosting the immune system and the latest holistic approaches to combating a herpes infection.

Live Herpes Free [AFF] – J.J. Currie discuses reclaiming your life from the herpes virus. Herpes can really change the way you live and this author talks about overcoming not only the tangential issues of living with herpes but also conquering the physical virus itself.

Get Rid of Herpes [AFF] – Herpes Wise is a book by Nathalie Foy. She claims to have her herpes completely under control and says that she can show others how to do the same thing.

Telling Someone You Have Herpes [AFF] – The author, Chris, states that he contracted herpes at the young age of 16. It devastated his life, slowed his social development and made him feel horrible for years. He overcame the adversity and wants to share what he has learned. (for a fee).

Here is a collection of short articles on herpes (these are short, one page articles)

Use the Leave Reply section below to:

1. Share with us your own experience / insight with herpes

2. Ask additional herpes related questions.

**This page is for information purposes only, if you have herpes or any other health condition – contact your physician for proper diagnosis and treatment

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