According to a new report, it looks like most people under the age of 50 (throughout the world) have herpes simplex virus infections - whether type 1 or type 2. (Picture is of a herpes simplex virus type 1, at www.virology.net). From Medical Xpress:
More than 3.7 billion people under the age of 50 are infected with herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), which commonly causes 'cold sores' and can also cause genital herpes, according to new research by the University of Bristol and the World Health Organisation [WHO]. The findings, published in the journal PLOS ONE, reveal the first global estimates of HSV-1 infection.
Herpes simplex virus is categorised into two types: herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 are highly infectious and incurable. HSV-1 is primarily transmitted by oral-oral contact and in many cases causes orolabial herpes or "cold sores" around the mouth. HSV-2 is almost entirely sexually transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, causing genital herpes.
The new estimates highlight, however, that HSV-1 is also an important cause of genital herpes. Some 140 million people aged 15-49 years are estimated to be infected with genital HSV-1 infection, primarily in the Americas, Europe and Western Pacific. Earlier this year, WHO published estimates of herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) infection showing that an estimated 417 million people between 15-49 years of age have infection caused by HSV-2. Taken together, these estimates suggest that over half a billion people between 15-49 years of age have a genital infection due either to HSV-1 or HSV-2. This highlights the large global burden of genital herpes caused by both HSV types.
Given the lack of a permanent and curative treatment for both HSV-1 and HSV-2, WHO and partners are working to accelerate development of HSV vaccines and topical microbicides, which will have a crucial role in preventing these infections in the future. Several candidate vaccines and microbicides are currently being studied.