The World Health Organisation (WHO) released their latest report into the Herpes simplex virus in February 2022.  The report contained key facts, statistics and information while also outlining the WHO response to herpes (HSV-1 and HSV-2).   Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (HSV-I) and Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 (HSV-II) are two types of the Herpes Simplex Virus.

How is HSV-1 and HSV-2 transmitted and what are the symptoms?

HSV-1 is usually transmitted via oral-to-oral contact that causes oral herpes but can also cause genital herpes. Symptoms include cold sores found around the mouth and lips.

HSV-2 is a sexually transmitted infection that causes genital herpes with symptoms such as blisters or ulcers around the genitals. The virus can also be contracted through oral contact from the infected genitals to the mouth. Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 are lifelong infections.

What does the latest WHO report say about Herpes?

What does the latest WHO report say about Herpes?

Key points made in the 18 February 2022 report from the World Health Organization are as follows:

  • It is estimated that 3.7 billion people under the age of 50 (67%) have HSV-1 worldwide
  • It is estimated that 491 million people aged 15-49 (13%) globally have HSV-2 infection
  • 313 million women and 178 million men are infected with HSV-2 because sexual transmission of HSV is more efficient from men to women than from women to men
  • Most oral and genital herpes infections have no symptoms
  • If you are infected with HSV-2 it increases the likelihood of contracting and transmitting HIV
  • When you have symptoms of herpes the infection is at its most contagious, but if you are asymptomatic, you can still transmit herpes to others

What can occur if you contract Herpes?

  • HSV-1 infection can lead to encephalitis (brain infection) or keratitis (eye infection) but it is rare
  • Advanced HIV and immunocompromised people can have worse symptoms and more frequent recurrences
  • When an infant is exposed to either type during delivery neonatal herpes can occur. It is not common and happens in an estimated 1 in 10,000 births worldwide but could lead to neurologic disability or even death of an infant.
  • Having oral herpes and especially genital herpes can cause psychological distress with the stigma that surrounds it. It can be treated with antiviral medications which can reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms but is not curable

The World Health Organization´s response to Herpes (HSV-1 and HSV-2)

WHO aims to increase awareness about HSV infections, examining its symptoms and providing better access to antiviral medications. The organization is endeavouring to seek HIV prevention particularly for those with genital HSV worldwide.

They want to provide more superior treatment and prevention interventions, vaccines and topical microbicides using advanced research.

How can Better2Know help?

Our Middle East clinics offer testing for a wide range of sexually transmitted infections including Herpes, each of which can be tested for individually. Alternatively, you can opt for a comprehensive health screen such as our Platinum Screen which tests for many STIs and HIV or our Gold Screen which tests for STIs. Both of these STI screens include tests for Herpes HSV-1 and HSV-2.  Medical specialists have designed our screens to ensure you obtain complete peace of mind about your sexual health.

Book your STI test or screen

All Better2Know’s tests, screens and services in the Middle East are performed in line with national regulations. To book your test or screen online, select the Book Now button at the top of the page and follow the instructions. Alternatively, you can telephone our highly trained and discreet Patient Services team 24/7 on the telephone number displayed above.


[1] World Health Organization: Herpes Simplex Virus

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