The characteristics, surveillance, epidemiology and diagnosis of genital herpes.
Genital herpes is caused by the genital herpes simplex virus (HSV). It is the most common ulcerative sexually transmitted infection in the UK.
The virus can cause severe systemic disease in neonates (newborn infants) and the immunosuppressed and it may facilitate HIV transmission. Many HSV infections are subclinical (not detectable), as there are no signs or symptoms of disease.
There are 2 distinct subtypes of HSV:
- type 2, which is almost exclusively associated with genital infection
- type 1, which primarily causes oral herpes (or cold sores), but can also cause genital infections
For symptoms and general information on genital herpes, visit NHS.UK.
Genitourinary medicine clinic activity dataset (GUMCADv2) collects STI information from GUM clinics and other commissioned non-GUM sexual health services.
Seromolecular services unit (SSU) provides reference services for HSV type 1 (HSV1) and type 2 (HSV2).
Antiviral unit (AVU) provides HSV antiviral resistance testing.
Management and treatment
The British Association for Sexual Health & HIV (BASHH) issues UK national guidelines for the diagnosis, treatment and management of all sexually transmitted infections.
Read PHE’s guidance on managing outbreaks of sexually transmitted infections: