Genital Herpes

  • D. Gene ParksEmail author
Part of the Current Clinical Practice book series (CCP)


Herpes simplex virus (HSV) has a long and confusing history. More than 2,500 years ago, Hippocrates first used the word “herpes,” derived from the Greek word “to creep,” to describe how the lesions of this contagious ulcerative disease seemed to creep or crawl along the skin (Herpes 8:23–27, 2001). Galen first noted that recurrences develop at the same anatomic site. However, over time, the word herpes was used to describe many skin conditions from lupus to zoster. The definition of herpes (particularly oral lesions) became more rigorous in the seventeenth century. In the 1830s, recurrent genital herpes was described and 60 years later was identified as a “vocational disease”—a sexually transmitted infection (STI). The virus itself was not identified until the 1950s. In 1971, it was proposed that two different types of HSV caused infection. HSV-1 commonly causes labial or pharyngeal infection, and transmission is primary by nongenital contact. HSV-2 typically affects the genital area and is transmitted by intimate sexual contact. However, both viruses are capable of causing either genital or oral-pharyngeal infections that appear identical on examination. In the United States, HSV infection is one of the most common STIs and is the leading cause of genital ulcers.


Human Immunodeficiency Virus Herpes Simplex Virus Herpes Simplex Virus Type Sexually Transmitted Infection Genital Herpes 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyDavid Geffen School of Medicine at UCLALos AngelesUSA

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