The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday disclosed that about half a billion people across the world are living with genital herpes, while several billions of people have oral herpes infection.
WHO, in a statement on Friday from Geneva, highlighted the need to improve awareness and scale-up services to prevent and treat herpes.
The UN health agency explained that the figures were given by Weill Cornell Medical College-Qatar and University of Bristol staff and was published in the WHO Bulletin.
WHO said that about 13 percent of the world’s population aged 15 years to 49 years was living with Herpes Simplex Virus type 2 (HSV-2) infection in 2016, the year with the latest data.
“HSV-2 is almost exclusively sexually transmitted, causing genital herpes.
“The infection can lead to recurring, often painful, genital sores in up to a third of people infected,” it said.
According to WHO, Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 (HSV-1) is mainly transmitted by oral-to-oral contact to cause oral herpes infection – sometimes leading to painful sores in or around the mouth (“cold sores”).
“Around 67 percent of the world’s population aged 0 to 49 had HSV-1 infection in 2016, an estimated 3.7 billion people.
“Most of these infections were oral.
“Between 122 million people to 192 million people were estimated to have genital HSV-1 infection,” it said.