Genital herpes infections usually do not cause serious health problems in healthy adults. In some people whose immune systems do not work properly, however, genital herpes outbreaks can be unusually severe and long lasting.
Occasionally, people with normal immune systems can get herpes infection of the eye, called ocular herpes. Ocular herpes is usually caused by HSV-1 but sometimes by HSV-2. It can occasionally result in serious eye disease, including blindness.
A woman with herpes who is pregnant can pass the infection to her baby. A baby born with herpes might die or have serious brain, skin, or eye problems. Pregnant women who have herpes, or whose sex partner has herpes should discuss the situation with her health care provider. Together they can make a plan to reduce her or her baby’s risk of getting infected. Babies who are born with herpes do better if the disease is recognized and treated early.
Genital herpes, like other genital diseases that cause sores, is important in the spread of HIV infection. A person infected with herpes may have a greater risk of getting HIV. This may be due to the open sores caused by the herpes infection or by other factors in the immune system. In addition, HIV-positive people may be more contagious for herpes.