You Have Herpes? It’s Okay, So Does Everyone Else!

If you’re a human being on this planet, chances are you have herpes!

Updated
Health News
3 min read
In all probability, you have herpes. So do many of your friends. The disease is incurable, but not worth freaking-out over! (Photo: For representation purposes only, iStock)

A new startling report by the World Health Organisation suggests that in all probability, between you, your partner and your ex, any two of you could be carrying some sort of herpes virus.

Before you get all grossed out, let me tell you, it’s not that bad.

In the first estimate of the STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) prevalence globally, the World Health Organisation has announced that 2 out of every 3 people under-50 are infected with herpes.

That’s 3.7 billion people around the world who have oral herpes (or the type 1 HSV-1), which tends to cause only mouth sores but can be transferred below the belt through unprotected oral sex.

Snapshot

WHO to the Planet: We’re Pretty Sure You Have Herpes

  • Herpes is treatable but you can’t get rid of the virus, it’s stuck in your body forever. Pretty much like glitter.
  • World Health Organisation: 3.7 billion people under-50 have herpes type 1, which causes cold sores on the face.
  • WHO warns it is increasingly causing genital sores too in rich countries.
  • 417 million people in the age 17 to 49 have herpes simplex type 2 - causing genital sores.

The report has been published in the latest edition of medical journal PLOS ONE.

Should You Worry?

Somewhat. Especially if you’ve never had a cold sore in your mouth, because that implies you might get the virus later in life in the form of genital herpes.

But don’t panic, we’re not at the brink of a horrible epidemic just yet.

Herpes is one of the most common STDs around the world and statistically speaking, two out of  three people in this picture are carrying the virus. (Photo: For representation purposes only, iStock)
Herpes is one of the most common STDs around the world and statistically speaking, two out of three people in this picture are carrying the virus. (Photo: For representation purposes only, iStock)

How Does it Spread?

Herpes spreads by skin-to-skin contact. Specifically, when a carrier sheds skin cells containing the virus and they come into contact with an opening in another’s skin. So even sex with a condom can spread herpes, though condom use does cut the risk significantly.

Let’s Talk Herpes:

For most people, the disease is so mild that it can be mistaken for skin rash (Illustration: The Quint)
For most people, the disease is so mild that it can be mistaken for skin rash (Illustration: The Quint)

It’s Possible You Have it and Don’t Know About it:

Most doctors will not test for herpes unless you ask for it or are showing symptoms. Well, hate to break it to you, but herpes is not on the menu of regular health tests as well. A random study done by New Delhi’s Sir Gangaram Hospital in 2013 found that 90% of the patients who were detected with this infection had no idea about it and did not show any signs or symptoms.

Herpes infection in the mouth. The fact that the disease is ‘incurable’, it remains in the body and can become active at any time, makes these numbers seem more frightening than they need to be. (Photo: iStock)
Herpes infection in the mouth. The fact that the disease is ‘incurable’, it remains in the body and can become active at any time, makes these numbers seem more frightening than they need to be. (Photo: iStock)

Health experts are advocating for a vaccine against this virus. In fact, several phase-1 and phase-2 trials are underway in the USA.

The nihilist’s takeaway is that herpes is everywhere. There’s very little anyone can do to prevent it or control its spread. In no way does it mean that you should throw safe sex habits out of the window. But it does mean that the virus is extremely common, like the flu, and it says absolutely nothing about you or your self-worth.

Also Read: Oh Snap! Makeup Can Trigger Early Menopause

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