Natural history of genital herpes simplex virus type 1 infection

Sex Transm Dis. 2003 Feb;30(2):174-7. doi: 10.1097/00007435-200302000-00015.


Background: Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) has been increasingly reported as a cause of genital herpes, yet there have been few studies on the long-term natural history of this infection. GOAL The goal was to examine the clinical course of genital HSV-1 infection.

Study design: This was a cohort study of patients presenting with culture-proven primary genital HSV-1 infection.

Results: The median follow-up of the 77 patients was 736 days. The overall rate of recurrences was 1.3/year in the first year of infection, decreasing to 0.7/year in the second year. In the first year of infection, 43% of study patients did not have a recurrence. In the second year of infection, 67% of study patients did not have a recurrence.

Conclusion: Genital HSV-1 recurs infrequently in most patients, and the rate decreases further in the subsequent years of infection. Because the prognoses of genital HSV-1 and HSV-2 infections differ, determination of the viral type is important for patient counseling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Herpes Genitalis / epidemiology
  • Herpes Genitalis / physiopathology*
  • Herpes Genitalis / virology
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recurrence