You probably have herpes too, according to a recently published World Health Organization (WHO) report stating that two thirds of the global population is infected.
The World Health Organization report has been published this week on Wednesday. In a first time global assessment of the incidence of both herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), the organization researchers found that two thirds of the global population under the age of 50 is infected with the HSV-1 virus.
Commonly known as herpes, the type 1 virus causes mouth ulcer-like rashes. Most of us will remember it at least from childhood if it never happened afterwards. Although the chances are small that it fully recedes. The prevalence of the infection is high. HSV-2, which is the genital herpes affects another 417 million people worldwide, within the age category of 17 to 49.
Herpes is (too) common and is typically caught during childhood. In addition to informing that you probably have herpes too, the WHO report indicates that HSV-1 is increasingly leading to genital infection or HSV-2 infection.
Somewhat counterintuitive the report states that this finding applies mostly to developed or rich states. Albeit the improved hygiene conditions which translate in a lower infection with HSV-1 during childhood, HSV-2 infection is on the increase.
The explanation: as teens become sexually active and experience oral sex, the risk of infection with herpes simplex virus type 2 increases. With this uptick, the risk of HIV infection increases as well. Encephalitis is among other medical conditions that may get a boost from a herpes infection.
Currently, there are no vaccines to prevent or treat herpes. Sami Gottlieb, medical officer working with the World Health Organization stated:
“We really need to accelerate the development of vaccines against herpes simplex virus, and if a vaccine designed to prevent HSV-2 also prevented HSV-1, it would have far-reaching benefits”.
However, partnerships are being forged to bring therapeutic or preventive vaccines on the market. One instance quoted by Nathalie Broutet, also medical officer for the World Health Organization is that of GlaxoSmithKline and the U.S. National Institutes of Health being involved in trials. These would determine whether prevention or treatment is a better solution to rid over two thirds of the global population of HSV-1 and HSV-2 infection.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia