Genital herpes simplex virus (HSV)


  • Genital HSV is highly stigmatised and poorly understood in the community
  • Patient education to address both clinical and psychosocial concerns is required at time of diagnosis
  • Other human herpes viruses can cause genital ulceration (herpes zoster virus [HZV];  Epstein-Barr virus [EBV]). See anogenital ulcer section
  • Initial episodes may be severe, and treatment should never be delayed while waiting for a test result
  • Most HSV is asymptomatic or mild enough that diagnosis is never sought. If symptoms do appear, it can be days or years after HSV was first acquired
  • More than 50% of primary genital infections are caused by HSV 1 in young people.
  • Recurrences are more common in the first year with HSV 2
  • Severe and frequent recurrences may be treated with continuous suppressive or episodic antivirals