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    Two-Thirds Of People Actually Have Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1

    The World Health Organization estimates that 3.7 billion people globally are infected with HSV-1, but that's not just oral herpes cases.

    A new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) says that 67% of the population is infected with herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1).

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    That's 3.7 billion people around the world. The report published yesterday in the journal PLOS ONE, and it's the first time WHO gave global estimates for HSV-1. They used population data from 2012 to look at infection rates for people under the age of 50 across all the WHO regions.

    HSV-1 infection rates were highest in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Western Pacific; and there were 320 million cases in North and South America.

    HSV-1 is usually thought of as oral herpes, but it can also cause genital herpes when transmitted through oral-to-genital contact.

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    There are two categories of the herpes virus: herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Both are highly contagious and incurable, but they're treatable. HSV-2 is almost exclusively transmitted through skin-to-skin genital contact, causing genital herpes.

    But HSV-1 is a little more complicated. It causes cold sores, and it's mostly transmitted through oral-to-oral contact, but it can also lead to genital herpes when transmitted through oral sex.

    In fact, HALF of the HSV-1 cases in people aged 15–49 are actually estimated to be genital infections.

    Herpes is incurable, but medication can help with symptoms and make it less likely that you'll pass it along to a partner.

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    If you have genital herpes, medication can shorten the time of an outbreak, according to the CDC. And daily suppressive therapy (daily antiviral meds) can reduce the risk of passing genital herpes on to your partner.

    For oral herpes or cold sores, antiviral medications (either in pill or cream form) can help them heal more quickly, according to the Mayo Clinic.

    To reduce the risk of transmission, avoid oral-to-oral or oral-to-genital contact when you have an outbreak, and don't share things like drinks, towels, utensils, lip balm, etc.

    Routine screening for herpes isn't recommended, but if you think you've been exposed or you have symptoms, check with your doctor ASAP.

    Most importantly, know that the herpes virus is incredibly common.

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    With more than two-thirds of the global population infected with HSV-1, it's hard to see why a stigma still exists surrounding this and other STIs. HSV-1 can be transmitted through kissing and oral sex, but it can also be passed along by sharing a drink or using the same lip balm. Along those lines, HSV-2 can be transmitted through sexual contact regardless of whether or not you used a condom.

    That doesn't mean that you should throw safe sex habits out the window, but it does mean that viruses like this happen, they are common, and they say absolutely nothing about you or your self-worth.