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Genital herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in Australia. It is caused by the herpes simplex virus, the same virus that can cause cold sores on the face. Antiviral medicines may relieve symptoms, speed healing, limit further outbreaks of symptoms and protect against spread to others. There are two types of the herpes simplex virus, called HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 is a more common cause of cold sores and HSV-2 is a more common cause of genital herpes, but both types can cause both forms of infection. Once a person has been infected with herpes simplex, it remains in their body for life. After the first episode of infection, the virus lies inactive in nerve cells and may reactivate from time to time.

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