Fewer Americans Are Getting Herpes Now


Herpes infection rates are dropping among young Americans, and safer sex practices may be one reason why.

Roughly 12 percent of adults were infected with genital herpes (HSV-2) in 2015-2016, down from 18 percent in 1999-2000, a new government report found.

The same promising trend was seen with HSV-1, a form of herpes that causes sores around the mouth and lips, sometimes called fever blisters or cold sores. Forty-eight percent of Americans had the condition in 2015-2016, a drop from 59 percent in 1999-2000.

“The report tells us that two of our most prevalent viruses in the U.S population, HSV-1 and HSV-2, are steadily declining,” said report author Geraldine McQuillan. She is a researcher with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

McQuillan added that other countries have seen a similar decline in the past two decades, and “improvements in living conditions, better hygiene and less crowding” may explain that drop.

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SOURCES: Geraldine McQuillan, Ph.D., researcher, U.S. National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS); Matthew Hoffman, M.D., MPH, chair, department of obstetrics & gynecology, and director, Center for Women & Children's Health Research, Christiana Care Health System, Wilmington, Del.; Amesh Adalja, M.D., senior scholar, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Baltimore; February 2018, NCHS Data Brief

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