Genital Herpes – Common Misconceptions

Patient feedback suggests some health providers still believe that:

• Most, if not all, genital herpes infections are due to HSV-2.

FACT: Genital herpes is caused by both HSV-1 and HSV-2 although HSV-1 is less likely to cause recurrent symptoms.

• Visible genital herpes infection is very typical and does not require diagnostic testing.

FACT: Herpetic lesions are often atypical and other conditions may cause genital ulceration; genital lesions should be swabbed and tested for HSV.

• Herpes simplex virus subtype determination is unnecessary.

FACT: As HSV-1 and -2 have different natural histories, it is important to ask for specific typing (so patients can be better informed).

• Serological testing can be used to diagnose genital herpes in the setting of an active genital ulcer.

FACT: Serological testing is not recommended as a routine diagnostic or screening tool. It is recommended only in specific clinical scenarios (see page 10).

• Herpes simplex virus infection can be ruled out with negative serologic testing.

FACT: HSV antibodies take several weeks and even months to develop after infection; false negatives and false positives are common.

• The 72 hour zoster treatment rule applies to herpes simplex.

FACT: All first episodes of genital herpes should be treated regardless of timing of onset of symptoms (see page 12).

The purpose of this guideline is to dispel common misconceptions and hopefully improve current management of those with herpes infection.

Free Download Resources on Genital Herpes

You can also access our guides online. Most are able to be downloaded in pdf form:

 Guidelines for the Management of Genital Herpes in New Zealand (online only)

PDF-download.png Summary of Genital Herpes Guidelines
PDF-download.png Genital Herpes - The Facts 
PDF-download.png Genital Herpes – Myths Vs Facts
PDF-download.png Herpes and Relationships
PDF-download.png Herpes and Pregnancy 
PDF-download.png Facial Herpes 

New Zealand Health Professionals Only

If you would like to get a print copy of the information booklets, fill out the form on the health professionals' request for printed materials