Screen Readers Skip to Content

66% of Population Under 50 Infected with Herpes

Published : 2015-10-31 - Updated : 2020-12-10
Author : WHO - Contact: who.int

🛈 Synopsis : WHO global estimate reveals over 3.7 billion people under the age of 50 are infected with herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). Herpes simplex: A viral disease caused by the herpes simplex virus. Infections are categorized based on the part of the body infected. Some 140 million people aged 15-49 years are infected with genital HSV-1 infection, primarily in the Americas, Europe and Western Pacific.

Main Digest

More than 3.7 billion people under the age of 50 - or 67% of the population - are infected with herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), according to WHO's first global estimates of HSV-1 infection published today in the journal PLOS ONE.

Herpes Types

Herpes simplex virus is categorized into 2 types:

Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 are highly infectious and incurable.

The new estimates highlight, however, that HSV-1 is also an important cause of genital herpes.

Some 140 million people aged 15-49 years are infected with genital HSV-1 infection, primarily in the Americas, Europe and Western Pacific.

Fewer people in high-income countries are becoming infected with HSV-1 as children, likely due to better hygiene and living conditions, and are instead at risk of contracting it genitally through oral sex after they become sexually active.

"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," says Dr Marleen Temmerman, Director of WHO's Department of Reproductive Health and Research. Large number of genital infections

In January, WHO estimated that 417 million people aged 15-49 years have HSV-2 infection, which causes genital herpes. Taken together, the estimates reveal that over half a billion people between the ages of 15-49 years have genital infection caused by either HSV-1 or HSV-2.

"The new estimates highlight the crucial need for countries to improve data collection for both HSV types and sexually transmitted infections in general," says Dr Temmerman.

Given the lack of a permanent and curative treatment for both HSV-1 and HSV-2, WHO and partners are working to accelerate development of HSV vaccines and topical microbicides, which will have a crucial role in preventing these infections in the future. Several candidate vaccines and microbicides are currently being studied. Regional infection estimates

Estimates for HSV-1 prevalence by region among people aged 0-49 in 2012:

Estimates of new HSV-1 infections among people aged 0-49 in 2012:

Herpes Symptoms

Herpes is a lifelong infection, which often has mild or no symptoms but can be detected by the presence of antibodies for HSV-1 or HSV-2 in the blood. It is difficult to determine the proportion of HSV-infected people worldwide who have symptomatic disease, as symptoms may be mild or simply not recognized as herpes. In the United States of America, about 15% of people with HSV-2 infection report a prior diagnosis of genital herpes.

When genital herpes symptoms do occur, they take the form of one or more painful genital or anal blisters or ulcers. Herpes symptoms can be treated with antivirals, but after an initial episode, symptoms can recur. Recurrences of genital herpes due to HSV-1 are generally much less frequent than for HSV-2.

WHO is currently working on the development of a global health sector strategy for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including for HSV-1 and HSV-2, to be finalized for consideration at the 69th World Health Assembly in 2016.

Source/Reference: WHO (who.int). Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith. Content may have been edited for style, clarity or length.

Related Herpes Simplex Virus Documents

You're reading Disabled World. Be sure to check out our homepage for further informative disability news, reviews, exclusive stories and how-tos. You can also follow Disabled World on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Disclaimer: Disabled World provides general information only. Materials presented are in no way meant to be a substitute for professional medical care by a qualified practitioner, nor should they be construed as such. Any 3rd party offering or advertising on disabled-world.com does not constitute endorsement by Disabled World. View our Advertising Policy for further information. Please report outdated or inaccurate information to us.

Cite Page: Journal: Disabled World. Language: English (U.S.). Author: WHO. Electronic Publication Date: 2015-10-31 - Revised: 2020-12-10. Title: 66% of Population Under 50 Infected with Herpes, Source: <a href=https://www.disabled-world.com/health/dermatology/herpes/infected.php>66% of Population Under 50 Infected with Herpes</a>. Retrieved 2021-04-12, from https://www.disabled-world.com/health/dermatology/herpes/infected.php - Reference: DW#291-11699.