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Genital Herpes

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Genital herpes infections usually don't cause serious health problems in healthy adults. In some people whose immune systems do not work properly, however, genital herpes outbreaks can be unusually severe and long lasting.


Occasionally, people with normal immune systems can get herpes infection of the eye, called ocular herpes. Ocular herpes is usually caused by herpes simplex virus (HSV)-1 but sometimes by HSV-2. It can occasionally result in serious eye disease, including blindness.

Pregnancy and Babies

A woman who has genital herpes and is pregnant can pass the infection to her baby. A baby born with herpes might die or have serious brain, skin, or eye problems. A pregnant woman who has herpes, or whose sex partner has herpes, should discuss the situation with her healthcare provider. Together, they can make a plan to reduce her or her baby’s risk of getting infected. Babies who are born with herpes do better if the disease is diagnosed and treated early.


Genital herpes, like other genital diseases that cause sores, is an important factor in the spread of HIV infection. A person infected with herpes may have a greater risk of getting HIV. This may be due to the open sores caused by the herpes infection or by other factors in the immune system. In addition, HIV-positive people may be more contagious for herpes.

Last Updated February 03, 2011