Fewer Americans Are Getting Herpes Now

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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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