Herpes I = Herpes II
Jul 18, 2002
I have herpes I (cold sores.) I've been told that if you have Herpes I you are not infected with Herpes II (genital herpes.) Is that true? Is it possible to have both?
Response from Mr. Kull
It is true that you can be infected with both HSV (herpes simplex virus) I and HSV II. Almost 90 percent of Americans are infected with HSV-1 (the type that typically causes cold sores/fever blisters around the mouth), mostly through non-sexual contact. Approximately 45 million, or one out of five, Americans above 12 years of age are infected with HSV-2 (the type that typically causes genital herpes). Most people with HSV-2 are not aware of their infection and do not experience symptoms.
It is possible to transmit oral herpes (generally caused by HSV-1) to a person's genitals (generally caused by HSV-2). You cannot predict if that person will exhibit the same type of symptoms, because infections with these viruses will manifest with some variation from person to person. Most people aren't aware of infection at all. Some STD research literature suggests that HSV-1 tends to have a less severe course than HSV-2 when transmitted to the genital region. But lesions could appear the same.
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