People get herpes from having sex with someone else who has the disease. “Having sex” means anal, vaginal, or oral sex. HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be found in and released from the sores that the viruses generates. The viruses can also be released from skin that doesn’t appear to have a sore. Usually, a person can only get the HSV-2 infection during sexual contact with someone who has a genital HSV-2 infection. Transmission can occur from an infected partner who doesn’t have any visible sore and might not even know that he or she is infected.
HSV-1 can cause sores in the genital area and infections of the mouth and lips, so-called “fever blisters.” HSV-1 infection of the genitals gets caused by mouth to genital or genital to genital contact with a person who has HSV-1 infection.