How Many People Have Herpes : Do you have Hidden Symptoms
Herpes is one of the most common STDs in the United States. But exactly how many people have herpes?
How Many People Have Herpes: Fast Facts
16.2%, or one out of six, people ages 14 to 49 is infected with HSV-2, the virus that causes genital herpes
Of those infected, 90% are unaware they have the virus
Genital herpes is highest among African Americans with a 39.2% positivity rate
In the past 10 years, the percentage of U.S. citizens with genital herpes has remained stable
How Many People Have Herpes: Men vs. Women
One in nine sexually active men, ages 14 to 49, has genital herpes
One in five sexually active women, ages 14 to 49, has genital herpes
48% of African American women are infected with the HSV 2 virus
1 in 4 sexually active adults in North America (including Canada) has genital herpes. About 80 percent of the population has the oral herpes virus that causes cold sores. It's one of the most common STDs / infections out there. Herpes transmission is more common from an infected man to his female partner than an infected woman to her male partner. Due to anatomical differences, women are more susceptible to contracting genital herpes.
How Many People Have Herpes: Why HSV-2 is So Common
A herpes infection can spread from person to person even without visible symptoms
Genital herpes is spread through skin-to-skin contact, including sex play
The virus often goes undiagnosed; a herpes infection can be asymptomatic or mimic less serious conditions such as jock itch, ingrown hairs, yeast infection, or a mild skin rash.
Concerned About Having a Herpes Infection?
Since genital herpes (HSV 2) is highly contagious and often has no symptoms, it is no wonder how many people have herpes. The CDC and STD experts recommend annual herpes testing for sexually active adults or testing for those who may have been exposed to the virus.
Herpes is best managed when diagnosed and treated early.
Pretty much everyone you know has herpes
Sorry to break it to you, but pretty much everyone you know has herpes. Seriously. Some estimates point to 85 percent of people having one form of herpes or the other. And the World Health Organization has said that two-thirds of people under 50 have oral herpes — so we’re talking over 65 percent. It’s also thought that around one in four women and one in five men have genital herpes. Yup, it’s that common.
So why is there a stigma? If most people have some form of herpes, it seems pretty ridiculous that we would still think of it as an unusual infection — or one that’s worthy of our judgment. Herpes is so contagious that contracting it is by no means a reflection on you — it’s not about sleeping around (which isn’t a bad thing anyway, as long as you’re safe) and it’s not about not taking care of yourself. Anybody can get herpes and, as the numbers show, many of us do.
Nearly seven in 10 people under age 50 – more than 3.7 billion teens and adults worldwide – are infected with herpes simplex virus type 1, a highly infectious and incurable disease, the World Health Organization announced Wednesday.
More than 1 billion people are infected with HSV-1 in the Western Pacific region, while Southeast Asia has nearly 1 billion cases, according to WHO’s first global estimates, published Wednesday in an article in the journal PLOS ONE.
More than 700 million people are infected in Africa, nearly 400 million in Europe, and 320 million in North and South America.
Known as “oral herpes” and typically spread through kissing, oral sex, and the use of shared objects like eating utensils, HSV-1 typically causes cold sores around the mouth. But it can also cause genital herpes, which leads to painful blisters and ulcers in the anal and genital areas.
Although most cases of genital herpes are caused by herpes simplex virus type 2, which is transmitted almost entirely through sexual activity, “we know that increasingly HSV-1 is showing up in genital infections, and that’s sort of a trend that public health folks are watching,” said Fred Wyand, communications director at the American Sexual Health Association in Research Triangle Park, N.C.
About 140 million people worldwide between ages 15 and 49 have an HSV-1 genital infection, WHO reported.
Worldwide, some 417 million people ages 15 to 49 have the HSV-2 infection.
“The new estimates highlight the crucial need for countries to improve data collection for both HSV types and sexually transmitted infections in general,” said Dr. Marleen Temmerman, director of WHO’s Department of Reproductive Health and Research.
Wyand said the new numbers come as no surprise to public health officials. He said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that 54 percent of Americans carry the virus.
After infection through oral secretions or skin sores, the oral herpes virus settles in nerve tissue at the top of the spine, while genital herpes sets up shop in the base of the spine. Once activated, both move up nerve pathways to the skin’s surface, sometimes without signs or symptoms.
The majority of genital herpes infections go unrecognized and undetected because most people have no pronounced symptoms, Wyand said.
In fact, the transmission of the herpes virus usually occurs with mild or no symptoms, and most people don’t realize they have it until virus antibodies are detected in the blood. Prescription antiviral medications treat outbreaks of herpes symptoms, but there’s no “permanent and curative treatment,” the WHO noted. And recurring episodes are common.
“WHO and partners are working to accelerate the development of (herpes) vaccines and topical microbicides, which will have a crucial role in preventing these infections in the future,” the organization said in a statement.
HSV-1 infections can have more severe symptoms and more frequent recurrences in people with weak immune systems. In rare cases, HSV-1 infections can cause encephalitis or eye disease.
While fewer children are becoming infected with HSV-1 in higher-income nations because of better hygiene, they remain at risk of contracting the disease genitally through oral sex.
Genital herpes is caused by HSV-2 (herpes simplex virus - type 2). Some people experience very mild genital herpes symptoms or no symptoms at all. The main signs of genital herpes are sores around the vagina, on the penis, or near the anus. Sometimes genital herpes sores appear on the scrotum, butt, or thighs. They usually begin as a rash of red bumps. The bumps then turn into blisters. It is common for the blisters to open up, sometimes causing severe pain. In time, the sores will scab over and heal. Some people have other genital herpes symptoms such as swollen glands in the groin, discharge from the vagina or penis, painful or difficult urination, fever, headache, and muscle ache. Genital warts are caused by HPV (human papillomavirus). There are more than 30 sexually transmitted strains of HPV. A couple of these can cause warts and a couple can cause cancer. Most have no symptoms at all. Genital warts usually appear as soft, moist, pink, or flesh-colored swellings, usually in the genital area. They can be raised or flat, single or multiple, small or large, and sometimes cauliflower shaped. They can appear on the vulva, in or around the vagina or anus, on the cervix, and on the penis, scrotum, groin, or thigh.