First global figures from the WHO suggest that more than half of the world’s population has herpes

October 28, 2015

More than 3.7 billion people under the age of 50, the equivalent of 67 percent of the world’s population, are infected with the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1), commonly known as oral herpes, according to the first global estimates of the World Health Organization (WHO) for the disease, published in the specialized journal PLOS ONE.

The herpes simplex virus is divided into two types: type 1, transmitted mainly orally, and type 2, which is transmitted almost exclusively through sexual transmission. Both are highly infectious and incurable, although they are rarely fatal.

The new figures indicate that type 1 herpes is a major cause of genital herpes, which affects about 140 million people between the ages of 15 and 49, mainly in the Americas, Europe and the Western Pacific.

At a press conference in Geneva, Dr Sami Gotlieb, from the WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research, explained how contagion patterns have changed.

“Mainly in developed countries, the prevalence of type 1 herpes has decreased during childhood thanks to better living conditions, more hygiene. Now young people are more susceptible to contracting genital herpes when they become sexually active, ”said the expert.

WHO stressed that these estimates highlight the need for countries to improve their systems to collect information for both types of the virus and sexually transmitted diseases in general.

Given the absence of permanent treatment, WHO and its partners are focused on developing vaccines and microbicides against herpes, which will play a crucial role in preventing infection in the future.

October 28, 2015

More than 3.7 billion people under the age of 50, the equivalent of 67 percent of the world’s population, are infected with the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1), commonly known as oral herpes, according to the first global estimates of the World Health Organization (WHO) for the disease, published in the specialized journal PLOS ONE.

The herpes simplex virus is divided into two types: type 1, transmitted mainly orally, and type 2, which is transmitted almost exclusively through sexual transmission. Both are highly infectious and incurable, although they are rarely fatal.

The new figures indicate that type 1 herpes is a major cause of genital herpes, which affects about 140 million people between the ages of 15 and 49, mainly in the Americas, Europe and the Western Pacific.

At a press conference in Geneva, Dr Sami Gotlieb, from the WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research, explained how contagion patterns have changed.

“Mainly in developed countries, the prevalence of type 1 herpes has decreased during childhood thanks to better living conditions, more hygiene. Now young people are more susceptible to contracting genital herpes when they become sexually active, ”said the expert.

WHO stressed that these estimates highlight the need for countries to improve their systems to collect information for both types of the virus and sexually transmitted diseases in general.

Given the absence of permanent treatment, WHO and its partners are focused on developing vaccines and microbicides against herpes, which will play a crucial role in preventing infection in the future.