How Many Americans Currently Have Herpes?

About one half of the U.S. population

Of people aged 14-49 in the U.S., 47.8% have HSV-1 and 11.9% have HSV-2

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Disclaimer: This information isn’t a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should never rely upon this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

Did you know that herpes is not just a sexually transmitted infection? There are actually eight different viruses in the herpes family that can infect, and commonly impact humans worldwide. But, usually, when referring to herpes, most people are thinking of oral or genital herpes, which are caused by Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (HSV-1) and Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 (HSV-2).

HSV-1 and HSV-2 Infections Are Extremely Prevalent

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 67% of people under the age of 50 worldwide have HSV-1 (1), the virus that most commonly causes oral herpes (and some instances of genital herpes). In the U.S., nearly half the population (47.8% of people aged 14-49, to be precise) has HSV-1 (2).

HSV-2, which is most often the cause of genital herpes—but in some cases it can cause oral herpes—is much less common than HSV-1, but still quite prevalent. 11.9% of Americans aged 14-49 have this type of the Herpes Simplex Virus. The CDC estimates 776,000 new cases of genital herpes in the U.S. each year (3).

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  1. Prevalence of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 and Type 2 in Persons Aged 14–49: United States, 2015–2016. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published February 7, 2018. Accessed March 17, 2019.
  2. Herpes simplex virus. World Health Organization. Published January 31, 2017. Accessed March 18, 2019.
  3. STD Facts – Genital Herpes (Detailed version). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published January 31, 2017. Accessed March 28, 2019.

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