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Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Over hallf a billion people worldwide now infected with Genital Herpes Viruses -WHO latest report

By Dianne Penn.
WHO headquarters, Geneva. WHO/P. Virot


More than half a billion people worldwide are being infected with the virus that causes genital herpes, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated in the new release.
World Health Organization and its partners agencies are working to speed up development of vaccines and other medicines to prevent future infections caused by the herpes simplex virus.
According to a United Nations Radio broadcast report monitored on Wednesday, "the herpes simplex virus is categorized into two types, both of which are highly infectious and incurable."
"HSV-1 is transmitted orally and causes "cold sores" or blisters in or around the mouth.
"HSV-2 is almost exclusively sexually transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, causing genital herpes."
It was further stressed that, "the World Health Organization (WHO) has found that HSV-1 is also an important cause of genital herpes".
"We can no longer think about genital herpes being caused just by HSV-2. And taken together, our two estimates of HSV-1 and HSV-2 genital infections indicate that over half a billion people have genital HSV infection. So, this is important because recurrent symptoms of painful genital ulcers in a proportion of those infected can really have a substantial impact on quality of life and on sexual relationships." said Dr Sami Gottlieb of the WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research.
Given the lack of a permanent and curative treatment for both HSV-1 and HSV-2, WHO and partners are working to accelerate development of HSV vaccines and topical microbicides, which will have a crucial role in preventing these infections in the future. Several candidate vaccines and microbicides are currently being studied.

Regional infection estimates

Estimates for HSV-1 prevalence by region among people aged 0-49 in 2012:
  • Americas: 178 million women (49%), 142 million men (39%)
  • Africa: 350 million women (87%), 355 million men (87%)
  • Eastern Mediterranean: 188 million women (75%), 202 million men (75%)
  • Europe: 207 million women (69%), 187 million men (61%)
  • South-East Asia: 432 million women (59%), 458 million men (58%)
  • Western Pacific: 488 million women (74%), 521 million men (73%)
Estimates of new HSV-1 infections among people aged 0-49 in 2012:
  • Americas: 6 million women, 5 million men
  • Africa: 17 million women, 18 million men
  • Eastern Mediterranean: 6 million women, 7 million men
  • Europe: 5 million women, 5 million men
  • South-East Asia: 13 million women, 14 million men
  • Western Pacific: 11 million women, 12 million men

Disease symptoms

Herpes is a lifelong infection, which often has mild or no symptoms but can be detected by the presence of antibodies for HSV-1 or HSV-2 in the blood. It is difficult to determine the proportion of HSV-infected people worldwide who have symptomatic disease, as symptoms may be mild or simply not recognized as herpes. In the United States of America, about 15% of people with HSV-2 infection report a prior diagnosis of genital herpes.
When genital herpes symptoms do occur, they take the form of one or more painful genital or anal blisters or ulcers. Herpes symptoms can be treated with antivirals, but after an initial episode, symptoms can recur. Recurrences of genital herpes due to HSV-1 are generally much less frequent than for HSV-2.
Transmission of HSV most often occurs without symptoms. The virus can have a significant negative impact upon an infected person’s mental wellness and personal relationships.
People with orolabial herpes symptoms may face social stigma, and can experience psychological distress as a result. In people with weak immune systems, such as those with advanced HIV infection, HSV-1 can have more severe symptoms and more frequent recurrences. Rarely, HSV-1 infection can also lead to more serious complications such as encephalitis or ocular disease.
WHO is currently working on the development of a global health sector strategy for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including for HSV-1 and HSV-2, to be finalized for consideration at the 69th World Health Assembly in 2016


.WHO according to the UNO Radio stated that "HSV-2 genital infection increases the risk of acquiring and transmitting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS."
As part of safeguarding measures released towards combating the scale of the infections, World Health Organization has urged countries to improve data collection for both types of the herpes simplex virus and sexually transmitted infections in general.
Dianne Penn, reports for United Nations Radio.

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