WTF is


Herpes simplex is a virus that has two types. One type tends to affect the mouth and face and the other type affects genital areas. Herpes can cause painful lesions, but people often have no symptoms. There is no cure for herpes, but antiviral treatments can help reduce the number and length of outbreaks.

Herpes illustration

How do I know if I have it?

Most people with genital herpes do not know they have it, as they may have mild or no symptoms. If you develop sores you should see a provider to get evaluated.

Symptoms may include:

Herpes graphic of a lip sore
  • An unusual blister or sore around your mouth, penis, vulva, vagina, or rectum 
  • Burning when peeing
Herpes graphic of a lip sore
Graphic of prescription pill bottle


How do I get treated?

  • Herpes is a lifelong infection, meaning that there is no cure, but not everyone who has the infection has signs or symptoms of the infection. One way to decrease the number and severity of herpes outbreaks is to take a medication prescribed by your health care provider.
  • Taking anti-viral medication as prescribed by a healthcare provider can also help minimize the chances of passing it on to your sex partner(s).


How is it transmitted?

  • Genital herpes is spread through having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has herpes.
  • You can get herpes from a sex partner who may be unaware of their infection and have no symptoms.
  • You cannot get herpes from surface like toilet seats or from touching objects like soap, towels, or silverware.
Herpes graphic of a peach
Graphic of banana with condom


How do I protect myself?

  • Discuss your STI status with your sex partners.
  • Consider using a barrier like condoms when having vaginal, anal, and or oral sex.
  • Some people with herpes have symptoms, like itching or skin irritation before they develop the blisters/lesions but they can spread the virus during this time.
  • If your partner is living with Herpes, ask if they take antiviral medication as prescribed.
  • Take a break from having vaginal, anal, or oral sex when your partner is experiencing a herpes outbreak.


Read more about the most common STIs and other infections below to know how to get tested and treated.

Free STI testing - Colorful graphic of condom

Syphilis is an STI that starts as a painless sore. It can cause many different symptoms including rash, swollen lymph nodes and even brain damage and blindness.

Chlamydia is an STI that may include painful urination and abnormal discharge from the penis or vagina.

Gonorrhea is an STI that causes painful urination and discharge. If untreated it may cause infertility.

Mpox is spread through close, physical contact between individuals. Symptoms can include rashes, bumps, or blisters.

Vaginitis is a term that covers multiple conditions that are not always transmitted through sex.

Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis is often caused by a virus and there are many different kinds.

Genital herpes is a common STI that causes genital pain and sores.


Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). There are many different types of HPV, some more serious than others. The good thing is that there is a vaccine to prevent many types of HPV.