Two-Thirds of World’s Population under 50 has Herpes Virus: WHO

Two-Thirds of World’s Population under 50 has Herpes Virus: WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) in its first estimate of the global prevalence of the highly infectious herpes virus showed that almost two-third of the world’s population under the age of 50 has the disease.

According to the study, there are two types of herpes the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), and the HSV-2, which causes genital herpes. Almost 417 million people in the 15-49 ages are affected with the type 2 herpes.

HSV-1 normally causes mouth ulcers rather than genital infection, but according to the study, it has also become an increasing cause of genital infection majorly in the rich countries. The study showed that improved hygiene in rich countries is lowering HSV-1 infection rates in childhood, putting young people at higher risk of catching the disease via oral sex.

As per the study, HSV-2 can increase the risk of catching and spreading HIV, the disease that causes AIDS. Sami Gottlieb, a WHO medical officer, said, “We really need to accelerate the development of vaccines against herpes simplex virus, and if a vaccine designed to prevent HSV-2 infection also prevented HSV-1, it would have far reaching benefits”.

Nathalie Broutet, a WHO medical officer, said in a statement that US National Institutes of Health and companies, including GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), are busy carrying out trials to find out if any therapeutic or preventive vaccine was preferable.

GSK earlier abandoned a vaccine trial after finding the product was not effective against HSV-2, although it showed some efficacy against HSV-1, said Dr Gottlieb.

The study’s findings were published in the PLOS ONE journal.

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