Almost Everyone Has Herpes But How Worried Should We Be
A new report by the World Health Organization estimates that two out of three adults under the age of 50 had herpes simplex virus 1 in 2012. Thats 3.7 billion people worldwide who are infected. But that doesnt mean its time to panic.
We used to call them cold sores or fever blisters and dismiss them as unsightly and annoying. But the truth is that little sore in the corner of your uncles mouth was always caused by a herpes virus that is easy to spread. So easy, in fact, that a new report by the World Health Organization estimates that two out of three adults under the age of 50 had herpes simplex virus 1 in 2012. Thats 3.7 billion people worldwide who are infected. Before we panic and start to plan for the herpes apocalypse, though, we should know a few things about this sexually transmitted infection .
Its a Virus
There are actually eight herpes viruses that can infect humans. Some are associated with known childhood sicknesses like chicken pox and roseola, and others can cause illnesses such as Epstein-Barr, which leads to chronic fatigue and other symptoms. The two herpes viruses talked about the most, however, are HSV-1 and HSV-2, because both are sexually transmitted.
What Do I Need To Know About Dating With Herpes
Some people feel like their love lives are over when they find out they have herpes, but its just not true. People with herpes have romantic and sexual relationships with each other, or with partners who dont have herpes.
Talking about STDs isnt the most fun conversation youll ever have. But its super important to always tell partners if you have herpes, so you can help prevent it from spreading.
Theres no one way to talk about having an STD, but here are some tips that may help:
Keep calm and carry on. Millions of people have herpes, and plenty of them are in relationships. For most couples, herpes isnt a huge deal. Try to go into the conversation with a calm, positive attitude. Having herpes is simply a health issue it doesnt say anything about you as a person.
Make it a two-way conversation. Remember that STDs are super common, so who knows? Your partner might have herpes too. So start by asking if theyve ever been tested or had an STD before.
Know your facts. Theres a lot of misinformation about herpes out there, so read up on the facts and be prepared to set the record straight. Let your partner know there are ways to treat herpes and avoid passing it on during sex.
Tell your past partners too, so they can get tested.
Myth: Giving Birth Always Transmits The Virus To Babies
If you are pregnant and have genital herpes, you may believe the myth that youll definitely transmit the virus to your newborn baby. Fortunately, with the right precautions, your baby faces a very small risk of contracting the herpes virus. Nearly 30% of pregnant women have genital herpes, but only 0.1% of babies born in the U.S. each year contract neonatal herpes.
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How Can Herpes Be Prevented
Correct and consistent use of latex condoms can reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of transmitting or acquiring genital herpes because herpes virus shedding can occur in areas that are not covered by a condom.25,26
The surest way to avoid transmission of STDs, including genital herpes, is to abstain from sexual contact, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested for STDs and is known to be uninfected.
Persons with herpes should abstain from sexual activity with partners when herpes lesions or other symptoms of herpes are present. It is important to know that even if a person does not have any symptoms, he or she can still infect sex partners. Sex partners of infected persons should be advised that they may become infected and they should use condoms to reduce the risk. Sex partners can seek testing to determine if they are infected with HSV.
Daily treatment with valacyclovir decreases the rate of HSV-2 transmission in discordant, heterosexual couples in which the source partner has a history of genital HSV-2 infection. 27 Such couples should be encouraged to consider suppressive antiviral therapy as part of a strategy to prevent transmission, in addition to consistent condom use and avoidance of sexual activity during recurrences.
How Can You Avoid Genital Herpes
Most women get genital herpes through sexual contactwith a person who has herpes sores. You can get thevirus without having sex. To avoid infection:
- Avoid skin-to-skin and sexual contact.
- Have safer sex:
- Reduce the number of sexual partners.
- Condoms, when used correctly, can reduce therisk of getting genital herpes. Each time you have sexuse a condom :
- Before vaginal sex
- Before oral sex
For more information, see Safer Sex.
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How Many People In The Us Have Herpes
HSV-1 and HSV-2 are both known to cause genital herpes. It is estimated that, in the United States, 47.8% of people aged 1449 have HSV-1, while 11.9% of Americans in the same age group have HSV-2 . Theoretically, this means that over 195 million people in the United States might have genital herpes. But we know the number must actually be somewhere lower than this. Not every herpes infection actually causes symptoms, and if it does, it isnt always in the genitals. Herpes can cause a latent infection, meaning the virus can lie dormant in your system without causing any symptoms. Because of this, not everybody who has herpes knows it even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are 776,000 new cases of genital herpes in the US each year . And this means our estimations of how many people are infected could be way off.
How Many People In The Uk Have Herpes
Genital herpes is the most common ulcerative sexually transmitted infection in the UK. There’s a very good chance that you might have it without even noticing.
There are two types of the herpes simplex virus, which are known as:
- HSV-1 causes oral herpes, which affects the skin around the mouth.
- HSV-2 causes genital herpes, which affects the skin around the genital area
The rate of genital herpes diagnoses has increased gradually since 2007 in both females and males.
In 2019, there were 468,342 new STI diagnoses made at sexual health services. Of the most commonly diagnosed STIs, there were 34,570 diagnoses of genital herpes, accounting for 7% of all new diagnoses.
It is estimated that over two thirds of adults under the age of 50 carry the herpes simplex virus.
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Herpes Myths To Stop Freaking Out About
A surprising number of people you know probably have herpes.
Shocked? You shouldnt be, since the virus is very common. According to the World Health Organization, 3.7 billion people under age 50 have herpes simplex virus type 1 thats 67 percent of the global population in that age bracket. Another 417 million people between ages 15 and 49 worldwide have herpes simplex virus type 2 .
Many people consider HSV-1 more benign, but it turns out theres not much difference between the two types of virus. While its true that HSV-2 is a sexually transmitted disease and can cause genital sores or blisters, type 1 can do the same thing.
One big misconception is that cold sores are caused by HSV-1 and genital herpes are always type 2, but thats not always the case, says Sarah Vensel, a physician assistant in San Francisco. Cold sores are so common theyve been normalized at this point. But genital herpes is sometimes the exact same virus just in a different location.
Not only is herpes incredibly common its also totally manageable. Allow us to set your mind at ease and debunk three widespread herpes myths:
What About Chlamydia The Most Common Std
Chlamydia is caused by bacteria, whereas herpes is caused by a virus. This is why chlamydia is easily treated and cured with antibiotics. However, many people have chlamydia and dont know it because they dont have any symptoms. Thats why people who are at higher risk of chlamydia, including sexually active young women and men who have sex with other men, are advised to get a test for chlamydia every year.
If you dont treat chlamydia, it can increase the chances of both men and women getting or giving HIV and AIDS, according to Medline Plus. Untreated chlamydia can also cause serious pelvic inflammatory disease in women, which can lead to infertility, and in men it can spread to the testicles and the tube that carries sperm, causing inflammation.
Screening for chlamydia is usually done by taking a urine sample or a swab from your genitals. Results of these tests are usually found quickly. Different testing methods are used for infections of the rectum and throat, and these take more time.
While the only way to completely avoid getting chlamydia or herpes is to not have sex, you can reduce your chances of getting both by being in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who is not infected with an STD and by using latex condoms every time you have sex.
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How Should I Take Valacyclovir Tablets
- Take valacyclovir tablets exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Your dose of valacyclovir tablets and length of treatment will depend on the type of herpes infection that you have and any other medical problems that you have.
- Do not stop valacyclovir tablets or change your treatment without talking to your healthcare provider.
- Valacyclovir tablets can be taken with or without food.If you are taking valacyclovir tablets to treat cold sores, chickenpox, shingles or genital herpes, you should start treatment as soon as possible after your symptoms start. Valacyclovir tablets may not help you if you start treatment too late.
- If you miss a dose of valacyclovir tablets, take it as soon as you remember and then take your next dose at its regular time. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, do not take the missed dose. Wait and take the next dose at the regular time.
- Do not take more than the prescribed number of valacyclovir tablets each day. Call your healthcare provider right away if you take too much valacyclovir tablets.
Myth #: People Cannot Spread Herpes To Others Unless They Have Sores Or Blisters
Fact: People can spread herpes to others at any time, including when they do not have any symptoms.
People with herpes may experience outbreaks and remissions. During an outbreak, a person has active sores or blisters, but in remission, they may have no symptoms at all.
The virus is usually more contagious when a person has an outbreak, but it can also spread when it is in remission.
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You Probably Have Herpes But Thats Really Okay
According to a recent report by the World Health Organization, 2 out of 3 people under the age of 50 have Herpes Simplex Virus 1 , more commonly known as oral herpes. Thats a staggering 3.7 billion people with a incurable virus.
But the thing about HSV-1 and HSV-2 the bad herpes is that theyre very poorly understood by the general public, and even by some physicians. So if the headline above seemed shocking or offensive to you, we need to have a little chat. Because if you think that people with HSV are icky deviants covered in oozing sores, youve got a lot to learn and you could very well be ignoring your own HSV status.
Heres what you need to know about the WHOs recent findings:
1. Yes, pretty much everyone has herpes and more and more of it is genital
HSV-1 is known for causing cold sores not real herpes, the STI that can cause sores around the genitals. This used to be pretty much true. In the past, most of the people who had HSV-1 got it as children, via dry smooches from infected aunties and the like.
But as people gained awareness of the contagious nature of cold sores, they became more cautious about exposing young children to a skin outbreak. That means more and more of us get to adulthood without any HSV immunity.
And even though HSV-1 prefers to live in mouths and HSV-2 prefers to live in genitals, theyre capable of swapping neighborhoods in a pinch. So considerate young lovers with HSV-1 can unwittingly spread genital herpes.
What If I Am Pregnant
While neonatal herpes is a serious condition, it is also very rare. Less than 0.1% of babies born in the United States each year get neonatal herpes. By contrast, some 20-25% of pregnant women have genital herpes. This means that most women with genital herpes give birth to healthy babies.
A mother helps the baby by passing her antibodies to the infant during pregnancy, so women who acquire genital herpes before becoming pregnant have a low risk of passing the virus to their baby.A woman who contracts genital herpes during the third trimester of pregnancy is at a higher risk of passing herpes to the baby because she has not had time to build up antibodies to the virus.
Most mothers with genital herpes have normal vaginal deliveries. Learn more about herpes and pregnancy.
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Percentage Of People With Herpes
The information below shows what percent of people have herpes. This report is only an estimate by the World Health Organization in 2016.
- 7 billion people with HSV1 = 66.6% of the worlds population
- 5 million people with HSV2 = 13.2% of the worlds population
This statistic will tell you the high and overwhelming percentage of people with herpes, especially with HSV1. However, regardless of the type of herpes, many people are unaware they have the infection.
Fewer Americans Have Herpes But The Number Is Still High
A new federal report reveals some good news about herpes: fewer Americans are getting the virus. However, nearly half of American adults have the first type of herpes simplex virus.
According to the new findings, released Wednesday by the National Center of Health Statistics part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the prevalence of both strains of herpes is down. Herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2 can both cause outbreaks of sores. HSV-1 typically causes cold sores on or around the mouth and is often spread by kissing, and HSV-2 can cause genital outbreaks and is spread by sexual intercourse. But its now common to get genital herpes from both strains, likely because of oral sex.
This is an excellent finding, because theres a clear declining trend, says report author Geraldine McQuillan, a senior infections disease epidemiologist at NCHS.
The report shows that 48% of Americans ages 14 to 49 have HSV-1, and 12% have HSV-2, according to 2015-2016 data. The fact that nearly half of Americans have HSV-1 may seem like a lot, but its actually lower now than it has been in prior years. The report shows that the prevalence of HSV-1 declined from around 59% in 19992000. HSV-2 experienced a similar drop, from 18% in 19992000.
Every year, about 776,000 people in the United States get new herpes infections, the CDC estimates. There is no cure for the infection, but some medications can relieve symptoms and suppress or shorten outbreaks.
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How Is Herpes Simplex Treated
Some people have few to no herpes outbreaks and choose not to have treatment. But many people prefer to use medications that shorten outbreaks and reduce symptoms.
During an outbreak, you may use an antiviral ointment or cream to help lessen your symptoms and help them go away faster, but it only works if you start it soon after you start an outbreak. Many people with HSV-2 take daily oral medications to keep outbreaks at bay.
Your provider may prescribe a topical medication or oral medication such as:
Herpes Statistics In Specific Populations
- Genital herpes affects more Black than White Americans: 39.2% of the overall Black population, with 48% of Black women affected.
- The largest increasing population is White teenagers.
- One in four American teenagers has an STD.
- 50-75% of unmarried American women between 45 and 50 have genital herpes.
- Globally, an estimated 417 million people are infected with HSV-2.
- Overall lifetime genital herpes occurrence rates are 25% among white women, 20% among white men, 80% among Black women and 60% among Black men according to 2003 data .
- Men who have sex with men are also at a higher risk.
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You Probably Have Herpes The Who Says
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GENEVA, Oct 28 – Two-thirds of the worlds population under 50 have the highly infectious herpes virus that causes cold sores around the mouth, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday, in its first estimate of global prevalence of the disease.
More than 3.7 billion people under the age of 50 suffer from the herpes simplex virus type 1 , usually after catching it in childhood, according to a the WHO study.
That is in addition to 417 million people in the 17-49 age range who have the other form of the disease, HSV-2, which causes genital herpes.
HSV-1 normally causes mouth ulcers rather than genital infection, but it is becoming an increasing cause of genital infection too, mainly in rich countries.
That is because improved hygiene in rich countries is lowering HSV-1 infection rates in childhood, leaving young people more at risk of catching it via oral sex when they become sexually active.
HSV-2 can increase the risk of catching and spreading HIV, the disease that causes AIDS. Little is known about any link between HSV-1 and HIV/AIDS, although it can lead to other serious complications such as encephalitis.
We really need to accelerate the development of vaccines against herpes simplex virus, and if a vaccine designed to prevent HSV-2 infection also prevented HSV-1, it would have far reaching benefits, said Sami Gottlieb, a WHO medical officer.