There Are Billions of People Living with Herpes Worldwide, The WHO Reports

At the beginning of May 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) published some rather worrying findings. According to the WHO, currently, there are billions of people living some sort of herpes infection. 

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The herpes infection is caused by the herpes simplex virus. There are two types of the herpes simplex virus, responsible for causing two different infections. HSV-1 is guilty of causing oral herpes which characterizes itself with cold sores, whereas HSV-2 has been causing genital herpes for years now. 

Back in 2016, it was estimated that approximately 13% of the world’s population, aged 15 to 49, has been living with HSV-2. That is roughly 491 million people affected by genital herpes. The WHO suggests that today, about half a billion people are living with genital herpes, while several billion people have oral herpes. As for oral herpes, back in 2016, the data shows that approximately 3.7 billion people worldwide, have been affected by HSV-1. A noticeable difference in these numbers can be seen. These new findings only highlight the importance of proper prevention and treatment when it comes to such dangerous viral infections. 

HSV-1 and HSV-2 both pose a danger if left untreated. Genital herpes is one of the four most common STDs on a global level. Rectal inflammation, bladder problems, and meningitis are only some of the many complications that can happen due to untreated herpes infection. 

If a woman is pregnant and infected with herpes for which she has now received proper treatment, the chances of transmitting the infection to the baby during the birth are big. Later, the baby can suffer from brain damage, blindness, and even death due to herpes. Having an untreated herpes infection increases the risk of contracting another STD. The risk of HIV is three times higher among those with untreated genital herpes infection. 

Unfortunately, there is no cure for herpes yet. Despite knowing all of the potential risks and dangers, we are still left without a vaccine that can help us prevent herpes as well. Having no vaccine or cure that we can rely on, only exposes us to a greater risk of getting affected by herpes and the many dangers that come with it. 

Until a vaccine has been found, the World Health Organization (WHO) warns against the need to increase awareness about genital herpes on a global level. Many countries face the problem of having been denied access to the usual antiviral medications such as acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir which are usually used to treat HSV-1 and HSV-2 in the other parts of the world. This is yet another problem that deserves our undivided attention to find a proper solution. 

References

https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/01-05-2020-billions-worldwide-living-with-herpes

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/herpes-simplex-virus

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