Scientists have revealed that over 66 per cent of people under 50 have herpes - meaning your chance of catching it is higher than ever before
Oh dear. According to the World Health Organisation your chances of contracting the herpes simplex virus are higher than ever before as they have revealed that two thirds of people under 50 are infected.
The disease – which causes cold sores around your mouth – is now thought to affect over 3.7 billion (billion!) people worldwide.
Herpes Simplex (also known as oral herpes or HSV-1) is different to genital herpes – or HSV-2 – because it is generally characterised by mouth ulcers, rather than blisters or sores around your genitalia.
That said, oral herpes can still lead to genital herpes. If you have HSV-1 and have unprotected oral sex, your partner is at risk of contracting HSV-2, even if you don’t have any cold sores present at the time. Furthermore, HSV-2 can be transmitted by unprotected genital sex, and oral herpes can be transmitted by kissing, sharing a toothbrush, or using the same cutlery as another person.
Both forms of the virus can stay dormant for months or years at a time – only breaking out when triggered by something such as an illness, fatigue, or even menstruation. As a result, up to 80 per cent of sufferers still might not be aware that they have the disease. Which is only mildly terrifying.
Unfortunately, as it stands, there is still no cure for herpes 1 or 2, but there is medication available to help with the pain. Similarly, medical advancements mean that it’s possible for women with the more severe strain of the disease to avoid passing it onto their children during childbirth.
But until a vaccine is developed, it remains up to you to do whatever you can to protect yourself. According to Terri Warren from SexualHealth.com, that requires avoiding intercourse when symptoms are present for your partner, and using condoms regularly. ‘[If you do that] the risk of you getting herpes from her is less than 2% in a year… If your partner has genital herpes caused by HSV-1, you should still follow the same precautions…but your risk is even lower.’