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Genital herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV2) is highly prevalent worldwide and an increasingly important cause of genital ulcer disease (GUD). Continued HSV2 transmission is facilitated by the large number of undiagnosed cases, the frequency of atypical disease and the occurrence of asymptomatic shedding. The lack of easy, affordable diagnostic methods and specific antiviral treatment in countries with low and middle income is of great concern, given the ability of GUD to enhance HIV transmission and acquisition. With rising HSV2 prevalence contributing to an increase in the proportion of GUD attributed to genital herpes in high-HIV prevalence settings, a safe and effective HSV vaccine is urgently needed. Meanwhile, multifaceted interventions are required to improve recognition of genital herpes, to prevent its spread and also to prevent its potential to promote HIV transmission in developing countries.