It’s time you get yourself checked for herpes as World Health Organisation (WHO) has revealed that the virus affects two-thirds of the world’s population under 50.
The herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), which causes cold sores around the mouth, is present in more than 3.7 billion people, The Guardian reports.
In addition, around 417 million people have the other form of the disease, HSV-2, which causes genital herpes.
HSV-1 is becoming an increasing cause of genital infection too because improved hygiene in rich countries is lowering HSV-1 infection rates in childhood, leaving young people more at risk of catching it via oral sex when they become sexually active.
HSV-2 can increase the risk of catching and spreading HIV and can also lead to other serious complications such as encephalitis.
Sami Gottlieb, WHO medical officer, said that they really need to accelerate the development of vaccines against herpes simplex virus, adding that if a vaccine designed to prevent HSV-2 infection also prevented HSV-1, it would have far-reaching benefits.