Herpes Facts And Statistics

If you are living with the herpes virus it is important to become educated on a variety of facts and statistics surrounding it. Herpes is a viral disease that originates in the herpesviridae family. There are two viruses within this family: Herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1) and type 2 (HSV-2). These two very different types of herpes are commonly referred to as: oral herpes and genital herpes. Oral herpes presents itself with cold sores and/or fever blisters which appear on the lips, face or mouth. Genital herpes is the second most common form.

Herpes FactsStatistics surrounding both oral and genital herpes are high and growing. Education is crucial to slowing the transmission rate. Anti-viral medications help carriers ease the severity of outbreaks, however, until a vaccine is developed and proven, it is critical to be aware of the causes and how to prevent passing the virus on to someone else.

Both of the herpes virus cycle between periods of time when the disease is active and can infect another person. This is usually between 2-21 days and is followed by a period of remission. What exactly causes a recurrence is not known however several potential triggers have been identified. Immunosuppressant drugs have been identified as one of the potential triggers. The severity of outbreaks typically tapers off over time with the worst case being the initial outbreak.

When most people learn basic statistics about herpes they are surprised by how prevalent it is. To add to the high figures, many people are infected with the virus and completely unaware of it (approximately 42 million Americans).

Approximately how many people have genital herpes?

  • An estimated one out of five people in the United States carries the genital herpes virus.
  • The above statistic indicates that more than 50 million people in the United States are genital herpes carriers.
  • 85% of people don’t even know they have genital herpes.
  • The above statistic indicates 42 million Americans are unaware they have genital herpes.
  • Genital herpes is the most prevalent viral, sexually transmitted disease (STD).

Herpes Statistics in Specific Populations

  • 39.2% of the black population is infected with the herpes virus; 48% are women. Herpes is more prevalent in the black-American population than the white population.
  • White teenagers make up for the largest increasing population.
  • One in four American teenagers has an STD.
  • 50-75% of unmarried American women between the ages of 45 – 50 are genital herpes carriers.
  • Globally, an estimated 536 million people are infected with the herpes virus.

A cure for herpes has yet to be developed. When someone becomes infected, the virus remains in the body for the life of the person. Many people have incorporated lifestyle changes to aid in reducing the amount of recurrences as well as the severity of outbreaks. In people with weakened immune systems, particularly HIV and cancer carriers, recurrent outbreaks are likely to be more frequent. It is not uncommon, however, for these people to also experience less severe occurrences over time. Others, not experiencing immune suppressed conditions may become perpetually asymptomatic and no longer experience outbreaks. This does not mean they are no longer contagious to others.

Additional Herpes Statistics

  • Herpes is one of the most commonly transmitted STDs in the United States.
  • There are about 500,000 new herpes infections in the United States each year.
  • 70% of adults have been exposed to herpes 1 by the age of 40.
  • Genital herpes is more common in women than men.

The statistics indicate that herpes continues to spread quickly throughout the American and world population with women being at a greater risk. Awareness and education can help slow the transmission down. Herpes is contracted through direct, physical contact with an active sore or body fluid of an infected person. To infect someone new, HSV escapes through tiny openings or breaks in the skin or mucous membranes in the mouth or genital areas. Microscopic abrasions on mucous membranes are enough to allow the virus to enter and infect.

Not having contact with your partner during active lesion outbreaks is crucial to protecting them from infection. Given the fact that 85% of people are living with herpes and don’t know it makes it even more difficult to control. Because they are unaware they are carriers does not stop them from passing it on to another person.

Women, in particular need to take special care in protecting themselves as they are much more likely to contract the virus. Knowledge of the facts surrounding herpes will help carriers live better lives and others avoid contracting it.

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