What percentage of primary genital herpes simplex virus (HSV) infections are asymptomatic?

Updated: May 24, 2021
  • Author: Folusakin O Ayoade, MD; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Most primary genital HSV infections are asymptomatic, with 70%-80% of seropositive individuals having no history of known genital herpes. HSV-2 seropositivity has been associated with viral shedding in the genital tract, even among individuals with no reported history or symptoms of genital herpes. [17] However, upon education regarding the varied clinical manifestations, many patients recognize the symptoms of genital herpes.

Truly asymptomatic viral shedding may occur in 1%-2% of infected immunocompetent persons and may be as high as 6% in the first few months after acquisition of the infection. [3, 18] This feature is important when attempting to prevent transmission sexually or perinatally.

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