We asked leading researchers how the two compare in terms of severity, recurrences, and transmission rates.We asked how often each occurs outside its usual site of preference, and how each behaves in the genital area.
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We questioned how much immunity having one type orally or genitally provides against getting the second type.
In addition, we looked at the way our society views oral and genital herpes.
It is the most common cause of neonatal herpes, a rare but dangerous infection in newborns; however, type 1 causes up to one-third of neonatal infections.
The two types do behave somewhat differently depending on whether they are residing in their site of preference-the mouth and face for HSV-1, and the genital area for HSV-2.
From there, it tends to recur on the lower lip or face.
HSV-2 usually sets up residence in the sacral ganglion at the base of the spine. Even this difference is not absolute either type can reside in either or both parts of the body and infect oral and/or genital areas.
Unfortunately, many people aren't aware of this, which contributes both to the spread of type 1 and to the misperception that the two types are fundamentally different.