The Prevalence of Herpes

An incurable virus known as Herpes is the cause of mucous membrane and skin infection. Infections to other areas of the body are very rare. Herpes is known as Herpes Simplex Virus, HSV or Herpes virus. Herpes infections of the mouth are called cold sores. Those infecting the genitals are known as Genital Herpes. These are the two most common types of HSV referred to as HSV-1 (oral herpes) and HSV-2 (genital herpes).

Distinguishing Between the Two Common Types of Herpes

HSV-1 or herpes simplex virus-1 is often called oral herpes. This type of herpes virus infects the mouth, lips and face. Lesions or sores can also develop inside of the mouth. In some rare cases, HSV-1 can infect the eyes usually the cornea or conjunctiva. It may also lead to meningoencephalitis or an infection of the brain’s lining.

HSV-2 or herpes simplex virus-2 is known as genital herpes by many. Genital herpes is most commonly transmitted by sexual intercourse. Symptoms usually appear on the genitals as lesions or sores. Some individuals have no symptoms at all. Oral-genital contact causes cross infections of HSV-1 and HSV-2. To better explain, a person’s genital area can become infected with oral herpes and genital herpes can infect the mouth of a person giving oral sex. Genital herpes is known as a sexually transmitted disease or STD.

Statistics Information about Herpes

Herpes will not cause any adverse affects to a person’s immune system. Herpes cannot be cured; however, it can be treated to effectively suppress the symptoms and reduce the frequency of outbreaks. Outbreaks may occur once or twice a month while some people may only experience outbreaks once or twice a year. Many people may be infected with herpes and never have an outbreak or may only experience there first outbreak years later. In the following, there is some additional information about estimated statistics related to both types of HSV.

  • In the United States, around 65% of the population has been infected with oral herpes or HSV-1.
  • One out of five adults has been infected with genital herpes or HSV-2. Keep in mind that these are reported cases and many people do not know they are infected at all.
  • Nearly 2/3 of those with genital herpes have reoccurring symptoms.
  • One-third of those with genital herpes have three or more outbreaks during a year.
  • In newborn babies, nearly 75% of herpes infections were transmitted to the new baby by mothers that never knew they were infected or by those who did not have any symptoms or history of a herpes simplex virus infection.
  • Both types of herpes simplex virus are just as common in women as in men.

Herpes can never be eliminated from an infected person’s body. It remains dormant and can be reactivated at any time appearing with signs and symptoms in varying degrees. Preventing genital herpes is best accomplished by not having sex when an outbreak is occurring. Individuals should always practice safe sex using latex condoms.

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