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Herpes 1 Virus and Herpes 2 Virus: Armed and Dangerous

  • Herpes is an STD caused by either of two types of the virus strain or herpes simplex 2
  • Both types of the virus can cause the commonly known herpes sores, but type 2 is more likely to cause genital herpes than type 1
  • , and often herpes symptoms in general, include the appearance of small, fluid-filled sores on the genital areas
  • Although there is no cure for herpes, herpes treatments are available that can greatly reduce the symptoms of the virus


If you watch television you have probably seen at least one commercial for prescription drugs designated for the control of herpes. What you may not know is what causes herpes or what happens if you contract it. You may not even have a clear idea of how it is spread or that not all examples of the herpes virus cause the same affliction. Below is some information about this disease that could help you better understand it.

What is Herpes?

Basically, herpes is a sexually transmitted disease, otherwise referred to as an STD. The disease itself is caused by the herpes virus, which comes in two forms. These are known as herpes simplex virus (HSV) Type 1 and Type 2.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), Type 1 causes the growth of small, fluid-filled blisters (sometimes referred to as cold sores) on the face. About one-tenth of the people who come in contact with this form of the virus develop any blisters at all. When blisters do develop, however, they last about 7 to 10 days. Infections can reoccur and are normally brought about by stress, hormones, or similar factors.

Although Type 1 can sometimes affect the genital area, when we discuss the STD version of herpes we are normally going to be focusing on the second type of the virus.

Understanding Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 45 million people in the United States who are over the age of 12 have HSV Type 2 that does affect the genitals. That number represents about 20 percent of the sexually active population. The majority of cases occur in women – 25 percent of women have herpes – because transmission of the virus is more likely from male to female than from female to male. Although the CDC points out that the number of cases has begun to decrease during the last ten years, contracting the virus is still a very real possibility for people practicing unprotected sex.

The virus is spread when an uninfected person touches the infected area of another person then touches a part of their own body. As you can imagine, sexual activity provides plenty of chances for this to occur between an infected and an uninfected partner. When a person contracts HSV Type 2 through sexual activity, he or she can expect the cold sores to appear in the genital area. Sores frequently show up on the penis, cervix, or vagina.

As with Type 1, you will not see the appearance of these sores immediately after contact. The incubation period for the virus runs between two and 20 days. In many cases, the first bout of sores won’t be noticeable, so people may not even realize that they have been infected until much later. As a result, they may pinpoint an incorrect source for the virus.

Unfortunately, no cure is available for the herpes virus, though treatment is available in the form of prescription medications. According to the Mayo Clinic, these drugs can help the sores heal faster and can prevent both the recurrent outbreaks and transmission of the virus to others.

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The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.

One Response to “Herpes 1 Virus and Herpes 2 Virus: Armed and Dangerous”

  1. 1
    jason Says:
    My girlfriend was freaking out over my cold sore and was insisting I go to the doctor until I showed her this article. Thanks for explaining the difference. Many people are not aware that there is a difference.