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"This is heresy, but I think type 1 is a more significant infection than type 2," says Spotswood Spruance, MD, an oral HSV specialist at the University of Utah."Type 1, and the morbidity associated with it, are underestimated." By comparison, HSV-2 is widely believed to be a painful, dangerous infection that affects only people with very active sex lives. Some 22% of adult Americans from all backgrounds, income levels, and ethnic groups have HSV-2.HSV-1 is also the usual cause of herpes whitlow, an infection on the finger, and "wrestler's herpes," (herpes gladiatorum) a herpes infection on the chest or face.The range and potential severity of HSV-1 infections lead some experts to view the virus as more risky than usually perceived.

We asked how often each occurs outside its usual site of preference, and how each behaves in the genital area.

However, both types can recur and spread even when no symptoms are present.

The primary difference between the two viral types is in where they typically establish latency in the body- their "site of preference." HSV-1 usually establishes latency in the trigeminal ganglion, a collection of nerve cells near the ear.

The first is how well the person's immune system is able to control the infection.

Differences in immune response may be the main reason that some people are bothered by frequent cold sores or genital herpes outbreaks while others are not.

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