Genital Herpes Type 1

What comes to your mind when you encounter the term genital herpes type 1?

Almost always, you will think of it as something that is sexually transmitted.

Just like any other lay person, you don’t differ on the impression of others about this type of infection.

However, this type of herpes is a mix-up of herpes virus type 1 and 2.

Hence, the term is a misnomer.

Below is a brief explanation on what the term really means, what causes the mix-up, and how to use the term.

What Supposedly is Genital Herpes Type 1?

Genital Herpes Type 1

Picture of a Herpes Outbreak

For people who are not totally informed with regard to herpes types may use this term incorrectly. When we take it as it is, this term could be the infection of herpes simplex type 1 on the genitals. Or it could be the other way around. For some people, it could be interpreted as genital herpes affecting the oral area.

Why the mix-up?

There is some confusion with the herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2).

The latter is the virus that affects the genitals while the former affects the mouth.

Hence, the latter is also known as genital herpes while the former is known as oral herpes (causing cold sores).

The confusion arises because HSV-1 could also affect the genitals and HSV-2 could also affect the mouth area.

This most commonly happens when engaging in oral sex (giving and/or receiving) with a herpes-positive partner.

So what is the correct term?

The strict usage of the correct terms may require laboratory report that states the actual type of virus causing herpes. Naturally, herpes infection in the mouth is called herpes simplex 1, or oral herpes, and herpes infection on the genitals is called herpes simplex 2, or genital herpes.

In case the cause of the oral herpes is HSV2, it is still called herpes simplex type 2 and not genital herpes simplex type 1. Similarly, herpes on the genital area that is caused by HSV1 is still called herpes simplex type 1.

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