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HSV-1 Common in Genital Herpes

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Years ago The Helper ran an article "Good Virus, Bad Virus." The title played off the perception that HSV-1 is “good” because it more often relates to oral herpes whereas HSV-2 gets the “bad” moniker due to its association with the nether regions.

The article pointed out the truth of the matter, though: the HSV strains are remarkably similar and either can be experienced as oral or genital infections (although oral HSV-2 infections are uncommon). The traditional associations of HSV-1 as oral herpes and HSV-2 as genital, then, were always generalizations. A number of studies, including a recent paper published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, adds to the evidence that HSV-1 is responsible for an increasing number of genital infections.

With the research published in CID, more than 3,400 young women with negative HSV blood tests were followed for 20 months to see how many acquired primary HSV infections. The subjects were all part of the HERPEVAC Trial for Women that evaluated a candidate HSV vaccine that ultimately proved ineffective. Over the course of follow-up 127 HSV-1 infections were detected, as were 56 cases of HSV-2. The higher rate of HSV-1 is not surprising, perhaps, but consider this: among subjects with symptomatic genital herpes, there were actually more cases attributed to HSV-1 (28) than HSV-2 (24).

The researchers also noted racial and age differences: black subjects were more likely to have HSV-2 detected compared to whites and Hispanics, and younger women were more likely to acquire HSV-1 (and were also less likely to develop obvious symptoms).

For more on oral and genital herpes, visit the Herpes Resource Center.

Bernstein D, Bellamy A, Hook E, Levin M, Wald, A, et al. Epidemiology, Clinical Presentation, and Antibody Response to Primary Infection with Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 and Type 2 in Young Women. CID, 2012. 56(3):344-351.



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Working closely with Church & Dwight – the manufacturer of Trojan condoms- ASHA has developed an array of sexual health tools under the banner of Condomology.

It’s been clear to us for some time that there’s a pressing need for a fact-based resource - designed for all audiences- that addresses many misperceptions that have been perpetuated about condoms and safer sex. A big myth is that condoms aren’t effective against genital herpes. While it’s true that condoms are more effective in blocking transmission with some other infections (especially HIV), don’t rule them out as a valuable part of HSV prevention: one study (Martin et al., Arch Intern Med 2009) showed that condom use reduced genital HSV transmission by about 30%. Condomology was developed to disseminate accurate information about sexual health and contraception, based on what the science tells us.

We think these new tools are so powerful because evidence-based science did indeed guide every step in their development. The Condomology microsite (housed on ASHA’s main website) offers a variety of resources including videos and infographics that cover how condoms are made, correct use, and a timeline of how condoms have evolved over the centuries (bet you didn’t know that early condoms were made of everything from linen to sausage casings!).

Check it out and let us know what you think: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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