HSV-2 is transmitted sexually (genital to genital, oral
to genital, or genital to oral) and perinatally (mother to
child). HSV-1 is usually transmitted via a non-sexual route;
however, sexual transmission appears to be increasing. The
efficiency of sexual transmission is greater from men to
women than from women to men. The presence of serum antibody
to HSV-1 is not thought to be protective against having a
symptomatic HSV-2 infection.
|Most genital herpes infections are
transmitted by persons unaware that they have the
infection or who are asymptomatic when transmission
The incubation period after acquisition is 2-12 days (average is 4 days). The likelihood of transmission (frequency of occurrences and asymptomatic viral shedding) declines with increased duration of infection. Washing with soap and water readily inactivates HSV; therefore fomite transmission is unlikely.
Genital HSV-2 infection facilitates both acquisition and transmission of HIV infection.
Page last modified: June 3, 2009
Page last reviewed: June 3, 2009
Division of STD Prevention,
National Center for HIV/AIDS,
Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention