Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). This virus can cause herpes in the mouth and lip areas as well as genital areas. There are two types of HSV, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 (HSV-1) is mostly associated with herpes of the mouth and lip areas. Type 2 (HSV-2 ) is mostly associated with genital herpes, but it can also infect the mouth and lips during oral sex. Both types of HSV can cause herpes of genital and mouth areas. It can be passed between these areas during oral sex or touching with hands.
Herpes is a disease that most often causes sores or lesions (cuts). The sores or lesions may come and go. So a person could have herpes without knowing. He or she can pass it to others unknowingly.
When the sores are visible, this is called an "outbreak". A person is more likely to pass herpes to others during an outbreak. But since many times a person might have herpes and not show any sores or lesions, he or she may have herpes and spread it to others unknowingly.
Herpes is passed during sexual contact (vaginal, oral, anal). Actual penetration is not required for herpes to be passed. Even if you use a latex condom during sex, if the affected area is not covered herpes could be passed. Very rarely, herpes can be passed through contact with toilet seat or hot tub.
There is no cure for genital herpes. Some treatment is available to ease discomfort or pain. Only a doctor or health care professional can diagnose herpes and offer treatment.