TERRI WARREN, RN, APN: Genital herpes is transmitted through sexual contact and that sexual contact can be intercourse, can be mouth-to-genital contact or could be just genital-to-genital rubbing. It doesn't take penetration to get genital herpes.
We don't believe that herpes is transmitted through inanimate objects with the exception of sex toys. Actively using sex toys between people when one has herpes and the other does not could transmit that virus.
It's not transmitted through hot tubs or swimming pools or toilet seats.
ANNOUNCER: When a person is infected with the herpes virus, it may not present with symptoms, and generally people are unaware they have been infected.
TERRI WARREN, RN, APN: We used to think that people who got first-episode herpes infections always knew it, that it was painful and dramatic and obvious. What we know now is that probably 75 percent of first-episode herpes infections go completely unnoticed by the people that are infectious.
ANNOUNCER: When symptoms do occur, they usually appear from time to time as outbreaks.
TERRI WARREN, RN, APN: The person who has genital HSV-2 infection, on average, has around five outbreaks a year. They may present with either a single sore or multiple sores. They could be very uncomfortable and sick, or they could be hardly recognizing what's going on with them.
They may have multiple, painful genital lesions, have difficulty initiating a stream of urine, headache, sensitive to light, flu symptoms. That happens, but that's much more unusual than getting herpes and being totally unaware that it's happened.