Most Of The Population Has Herpes, 80% Do Not Know They Do

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Like many diseases that carry some type of stigma or are considered taboo, herpes is one of those things that most people do not like to talk about and would generally like to think only happens to someone else. However, a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO), there are now more people in the world with herpes than there are penises, and any given person more likely that not has herpes.

The latest numbers show that 3.7 billion people worldwide under the age of 50, which accounts for 67 percent of the global population, is infected with herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). HSV-1 generally presents as a cold sore on a person’s mouth but can be spread to the genitals. through oral contact. HSV-2 is the strain of herpes that is transmitted through skin to skin contact and is almost entirely sexually transmitted.

These latest figures highlight just how much of a role HSV-1 plays in the number of genital herpes infections, with some 140 million people between 15 and 49 years of age being infected with HSV-1. When this is combined with the estimated 417 million people between 15-49 years old who have HSV-2, more than half a billion people have a genital infection causes by one of the herpes viruses.

As the Director of WHO’s Department of Reproductive Health and Research Dr. Marleen Temmermen points out, “The new estimates highlight the crucial need for countries to improve data collection for both HSV types and sexually transmitted infections in general.” She goes on to say, “Access to education and information on both types of herpes and sexually transmitted infections is critical to protect young people’s health before they become sexually active.”

According to a study conducted by the CDC, nearly half (48 percent) of all Black women between 14 and 49 years old have genital herpes, meaning the HIV epidemic is not the only thing Black people should be concerned about. These numbers mean that Black woman have the highest rate of infection compared to other woman. Putting in perspective just how high the numbers are for Black women is the fact that only 21 percent of all woman are infected. For the Black population overall, 39 percent are infected, as opposed to 12 percent of whites.

Underscoring the importance of education and preventing the further spread of herpes is the fact that there is no cure for either strain. Researchers are in the process of studying vaccines and topical microbicides that can be used, but as of now, there is no permanent and curative treatment for HSV-1 or HSV-2.

Perhaps the thing that is most scary about herpes is the fact that 80 percent of those who have herpes have no idea they have been infected, leading to an ever increasing number of infections.

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6 Comments

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