Genital herpes is a common viral infection caused by a virus known as the herpes simplex virus (HSV).
There are two types of the virus, types 1 and 2 (HSV-1 and HSV-2). As well as genital herpes, HSV can infect your mouth and cause cold sores. HSV-1 and HSV-2 infections look the same and you can only tell them apart by lab testing.
Because genital herpes can be passed to others through sexual contact, it is often referred to as a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
As many as 1 in 3 adults has the virus that causes genital herpes. Once you have HSV it remains in your body and becomes active again from time to time.
On average, symptoms of genital herpes are likely to recur 4–5 times in the first 2 years after being infected with HSV. However, over time the virus tends to become active less often and each time you get symptoms they are less severe.
(Just the Facts, NZ, 2016)