Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Percentage Of Americans With Herpes

Who Gets Herpes Simplex

5 Stigma-Busting Facts About Herpes

Most people get HSV-1 as an infant or child. This virus can be spread by skin-to-skin contact with an adult who carries the virus. An adult does not have to have sores to spread the virus.

A person usually gets HSV-2 through sexual contact. About 20% of sexually active adults in the United States carry HSV-2. Some people are more likely to get HSV-2. These people:

  • Are female

  • Have had many sex partners

  • Had sex for the first time at a young age

  • Have another sexually transmitted infection

  • Have a weakened immune system due to a disease or medicine

How Does Someone Get Herpes

Herpes is transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact. This happens when a contagious area comes into contact with a tiny break in the skin or mucous membrane tissue, usually on the mouth or genitals. Most skin on the body is too thick for the virus to go through.

Oral herpes can be passed on through kissing or oral sex. If a person with oral herpes performs oral sex, it is possible to pass along the infection to the partners genitals. If a person with genital herpes has sex, it is possible for his or her partner to get genital herpes. Any person who is sexually active can get genital herpes.

Genital herpes can be transmitted sexually both when symptoms are present and sometimes when symptoms are not present. There are several days throughout the year when the virus may be on the surface of the skin, but there are no symptoms. Herpes can be passed through sexual contact during this time.

There are no documented cases of a person getting genital herpes from an inanimate object such as a toilet seat, bathtub, or towel. Herpes is a very fragile virus and does not live long on surfaces.

What Happens If I Dont Receive Treatment

Genital herpes can cause painful genital sores and can be severe in people with suppressed immune systems.

If you touch your sores or fluids from the sores, you may transfer herpes to another body part like your eyes. Do not touch the sores or fluids to avoid spreading herpes to another part of your body. If you do touch the sores or fluids, quickly wash your hands thoroughly to help avoid spreading the infection.

If you are pregnant, there can be problems for you and your unborn fetus, or newborn baby. See Im pregnant. How could genital herpes affect my baby? for information about this.

Also Check: Where Does Herpes Come From

The Cdc Doesn’t Recommend Testing For Herpes

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines say it loud and clear .

For the majority of people with herpes, the infection causes them no physical problems, and there’s nothing they could do to cure themselves if they found out that they had it. So a positive diagnosis is of limited utility. The CDC’s reasoning? ”It is not clear whether knowledge of a herpes diagnosis improves the health of people taking the tests and reduces spread of HSV in the population.”

people with herpes but no symptoms can still spread the virus

But some public heath professionals disagree with these recommendations. It’s important to note that people with herpes but no symptoms can still spread the virus to other people. And their risk of contracting HIV is two times as high as those who don’t have herpes.

Update: I added information about how the majority of Americans are infected with herpes viruses.

Whats The Difference Between Genital Herpes And Oral Herpes


Because there are 2 different kinds of herpes simplex viruses that can live on many body parts, lots of people are confused about what to call these infections. But its actually pretty simple:

  • When you get either HSV-1 or HSV-2 on or around your genitals , its called genital herpes.

  • When you get either HSV-1 or HSV-2 in or around your lips, mouth, and throat, its called oral herpes. Oral herpes sores are sometimes called cold sores or fever blisters.

HSV-1 usually causes oral herpes, and HSV-2 usually causes genital herpes each strain prefers to live on its favorite area. But its totally possible for both types of herpes simplex to infect either area. For example, you can get HSV-1 on your genitals if someone with a cold sore on their lips gives you oral sex. And you can get HSV-2 in your mouth if you give oral sex to someone with HSV-2 on their genitals.

Don’t Miss: Can I Put Cold Sore Cream On Genital Herpes

How Common Is Genital Herpes

Genital herpes infection is common in the United States. CDC estimated that there were 572,000 new genital herpes infections in the United States in a single year.1 Nationwide, 11.9 % of persons aged 14 to 49 years have HSV-2 infection .2 However, the prevalence of genital herpes infection is higher than that because an increasing number of genital herpes infections are caused by HSV-1. 3 Oral HSV-1 infection is typically acquired in childhood because the prevalence of oral HSV-1 infection has declined in recent decades, people may have become more susceptible to contracting a genital herpes infection from HSV-1. 4

HSV-2 infection is more common among women than among men the percentages of those infected during 2015-2016 were 15.9% versus 8.2% respectively, among 14 to 49 year olds. 2 This is possibly because genital infection is more easily transmitted from men to women than from women to men during penile-vaginal sex. 5 HSV-2 infection is more common among non-Hispanic blacks than among non-Hispanic whites . 2 A previous analysis found that these disparities, exist even among persons with similar numbers of lifetime sexual partners. Most infected persons may be unaware of their infection in the United States, an estimated 87.4% of 14 to 49 year olds infected with HSV-2 have never received a clinical diagnosis. 6

The age-adjusted percentage of persons in the United States infected with HSV-2 decreased from 18.0% in 19992000 to 12.1% in 2015-2016. 2

How Will You Know If You Have Hsv

In most cases, you wont know unless you develop blisters or sores on the mouth or genitals. These sores usually have a burning, tingling sensation.

If you think youve been exposed to HSV-2 or would like to know if you carry the virus, talk to a doctor or other healthcare provider about testing.

Yes, you can still have sex if you have HSV-1 or HSV-2.

However, you should avoid intimate contact if youre experiencing an active outbreak. This will reduce the risk for transmission to your partner.

For example, if you have a cold sore you should avoid kissing your partner or performing oral sex.

If you have an active genital outbreak, you should avoid any below-the-belt activity until it clears.

Although the virus is less likely to spread when no symptoms are present, practicing sex with a condom or another barrier method, such as a dental dam, can help reduce the overall risk for transmission.

You may also consider talking to your healthcare provider about prescription antiviral medication, such as:

  • acyclovir

These medications can help suppress the virus and reduce the risk of transmission.

In rare cases, herpes can be transmitted during pregnancy or childbirth. Reassurances about genital herpes during pregnancy and birth. .

If youre pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, talk to an obstetrician or other healthcare provider about the steps you can take to reduce the risk for transmission.

Read Also: How Long It Takes For Herpes To Show

What Can I Do If I Have Herpes Simplex 2

Many people who find out they have herpes feel depressed knowing theyâll always have the virus and can give it to others. But you arent alone. Herpes is one of the most common STIs, both in the U.S. and worldwide. If you have herpes, you should:

  • Learn all you can about it. Information will help you to manage your disease and feel better about yourself.
  • Talk about your illness with your doctor.

If you have herpes, you can still:

  • Have sex if you use a condom or dental dam , and you tell your partner about your illness. Some couples, who have sexual relations only with each other, may choose not to use condoms even though one partner has herpes. Because each situation is different, you should ask your doctor if this is the right choice for you in your relationship.
  • Have children. People with herpes can still give birth to healthy babies. If you have herpes and plan to have children, discuss your illness with your healthcare provider.

If you have herpes, you should also get checked for HIV and other STIs .

What If I Am Pregnant

Herpes and Pregnancy

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.

Read Also: Does Hand Sanitizer Kill Herpes

Health And Social Impacts

Most people living with herpes, caused by either HSV-1 or 2, are unaware they have the infection.

When symptoms do occur however, oral herpes infection can lead to painful sores around the mouth . Genital herpes infection can cause recurring, often painful, genital sores, often referred to as genital ulcer disease.

WHO and partners published a study in March 2020 estimating that around 5% of the worlds population suffered from at least one episode of herpes-relatedgenital ulcer disease in 2016 . Most of these episodes were due to HSV-2, which can recur frequently over many years.

Recurrent symptoms of genital herpes can lead to stigma and psychological distress, and can have an important impact on quality of life and sexual relationships. However, in time, most people with herpes adjust to living with the infection.

Genital herpes is a substantial health concern worldwide beyond the potential pain and discomfort suffered by people living with the infection, the associated social consequences can have a profound effect on sexual and reproductive healthsays Dr Ian Askew, Director of the Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research at WHO.

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.

You May Like: What Does Genital Herpes Feel Like

How Is Genital Herpes Diagnosed

HSV nucleic acid amplification tests are the most sensitive and highly specific tests available for diagnosing herpes. However, in some settings viral culture is the only test available. The sensitivity of viral culture can be low, especially among people who have recurrent or healing lesions. Because viral shedding is intermittent, it is possible for someone to have a genital herpes infection even though it was not detected by NAAT or culture. 11

Type-specific virologic tests can be used for diagnosing genital herpes when a person has recurrent symptoms or lesion without a confirmatory NAAT, culture result, or has a partner with genital herpes. Both virologic tests and type-specific serologic tests should be available in clinical settings serving patients with, or at risk for, sexually transmitted infections. 11

Given performance limitations with commercially available type-specific serologic tests , a confirmatory test with a second method should be performed before test interpretation. If confirmatory tests are unavailable, patients should be counseled about the limitations of available testing before serologic testing. Healthcare providers should also be aware that false-positive results occur. In instances of suspected recent acquisition, serologic testing within 12 weeks after acquisition may be associated with false negative test results. 11

Providers are strongly encouraged to look at CDCs STI Treatment Guidelines for further diagnostic considerations.

Theres A Cure And A Vaccination For Herpes

Half of Americans have cold sore virus  12 percent genital herpes

Unfortunately, there is no cure or vaccination for herpes. The structure and behavior of the herpes simplex virus makes it difficult to develop an effective vaccine, though scientists continue to try.

As much as people with herpes wish for a cure, this infection is currently a lifelong condition. But the good news is that antiviral medications and high-powered light treatment with Luminance RED can help to reduce and prevent painful outbreaks.

Read Also: What Causes Herpes Outbreaks To Get Worse

Virus Causing Genital Herpes May Put Millions Of People At Greater Risk Of Infection With Hiv

About half a billion people worldwide are living with genital herpes, and several billion have an oral herpes infection, new estimates show.

Authored by staff at the University of Bristol, World Health Organization , and Weill Cornell Medical College-Qatar, and published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, the new study estimates the global infection prevalence and incidence of herpes simplexvirus types 1 and 2 in 2016.

Herpes infection affects millions of people across the globe and can have far-reaching health effects. We need more investment and commitment to develop better treatment and prevention tools for this infection. says Dr Sami Gottlieb, MedicalOfficer at WHO and an author of the study.

No Cure Better Treatment And Prevention Needed

There is no cure for herpes. At present, antiviral medications, such as acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir, can help to reduce the severity and frequency of symptoms but cannot cure the infection.

As well as increasing awareness about HSV infection and its symptoms, improved access to antiviral medications and heightened HIV prevention efforts for those with genital HSV symptoms are needed globally.

In addition, development of better treatment and prevention interventions is needed, particularly HSV vaccines. WHO and partners are working to accelerate research to develop new strategies for prevention and control of HSV infections. Such research includesthe development of HSV vaccines and topical microbicides. Several candidate vaccines and microbicides are currently being studied.

A vaccine against HSV infection would not only help to promote and protect the health and well-being of millions of people, particularly women, worldwide it could also potentially have an impact on slowing the spread of HIV, if developedand provided alongside other HIV prevention strategies says Dr Meg Doherty, Director of the WHO Department of Global HIV, Hepatitis, and STI Programmes.

Read Also: How Long Does It Take For Genital Herpes To Heal

Most People With Herpes Are Asymptomatic

Despite its prevalence, a surprising number of people are asymptomatic and never know they have herpes! This puts them at higher risk of spreading the herpes virus to others unintentionally.

Up to 80% of all HSV2 infections are asymptomatic. However, a lack of symptoms doesnt always stop viral shedding in the genital tract. Its still possible for asymptomatic people to shed the virus and spread it through oral or sexual contact with a partner.

The Odds Of Getting Herpes

Herpes Spreads, Even Without Symptoms

âWhat are my odds of getting an infection?â This is the most common question we hear in our practice.

In this section, we summarize herpes statistics answering that question and many other related questions regarding herpes transmission:

  • With and without protection
  • While symptomatic versus while asymptomatic
  • And the difference between the two types, HSV-1 and HSV-2

Statistics are one of the most important parts of medicine and doctors rely heavily on statistics for early diagnosis and treatment. They tell doctors how common a condition is in general, how easy it is to get an infection through a one-time contact or through multiple contacts, the chance of contracting the infection in different ways, and many other things.

First, we present tables statistical information. This is followed by FAQ answered by an expert STD physician.

Letâs dive in.

All you need to know about herpes testing. By STD expert.

You May Like: How Do You Get Rid Of Herpes On Your Lips

Chance Of Herpes Transmission By Gender

This table summarizes herpes transmission by gender. The percentages are the per-year chance of contracting the disease when one person is infected:

  • infected male to susceptible female
  • infected female to a susceptible male

As you can see, females are at higher risk of contracting the infection.

The percentages mentioned bellow are general estimates and may vary from person to person based on immune system strength , skin condition , and race .

Vector of transmission Chance of transmission
From an infected male to a susceptible female 7%â31%
From an infected female to a susceptible male 4%

Is There A Link Between Hsv1 And Hsv2

Cold sores and genital herpes are both members of the Herpesviridae family of DNA viruses, so they share many of the same characteristics and symptoms, including recurring infections and painful sores. However, each condition is caused by a different strain of the herpes simplex virus .

In most cases, theres no link between HSV1 and HSV2. The HSV2 strain is a sexually transmitted disease, while HSV1 is not.

However, its worth noting that the categorization of HSV1 as oral herpes and HSV2 as genital herpes is not as clear-cut as once believed. Research now shows that up to 42% of genital herpes in females is actually caused by HSV-1, not HSV-2.

Recommended Reading: Can You Spread Genital Herpes To Yourself

Popular Articles
Related news