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Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is a sexually transmissible infection (STI). This page outlines the symptoms and the ongoing management of genital herpes.

What is it?

Genital herpes is an infection on the genitals caused by the herpes simplex virus. This is the same virus that causes cold sores around the mouth.

How do you get it?

You get genital herpes through close skin contact with someone who has the virus.

It can also be transmitted from mother to baby/pēpe. If during late pregnancy an ulcer or blister is present, a decision may be made about a caesarean delivery of the baby.

What are the symptoms?

The first attack of genital herpes may be the worst with painful blisters, ulcers, or sores. Most people have no symptoms.

You are most infectious just before you get a sore, with the sore, and just afterwards. However, people can spread the virus when they have no symptoms.

How is it treated?

Genital herpes is treated with anti-herpes medication. These tablets shorten the attack. If you get lots of attacks (more than six a year) you can take tablets all the time which will help stop this happening. 

Will it impact my partner/s?

Partners can catch the virus even when there are no symptoms. Using condoms/pukoro ure or oral dams when a person has symptoms will help reduce the risk of spreading the infection.

More information

For information on genital herpes contact the New Zealand Herpes Foundation on 0508 11 12 13 or

Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.

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