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But both types are quite common, and under most circumstances neither is a major health threat.
That's one reason medical professionals tend to dismiss HSV -2 despite the emotional trauma a diagnosis can cause for a patient.
While HSV can be a frustrating and painful condition for some people, in general the virus is less a medical problem than a social problem.
For most of us, genital herpes is no more dangerous than a cold sore. Just how much of a physical problem HSV poses for a person depends largely on three factors.
The second factor affecting outbreaks is how long a person has had the infection.
Like HSV-1, type 2 is usually mild-so mild that two- thirds of infected people don't even know they have it.
Type 2 rarely causes complications or spreads to other parts of the body.
Following the unspoken assumptions of our society, many people still believe there is a "good" herpes virus-HSV- 1, the usual cause of cold sores-and a "bad" herpes virus-HSV-2, the usual cause of genital herpes.
In this feature, we take a look at HSV- 1 and 2 to see how alike and different the two viral types really are.