According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 3.7bn people worldwide have the Herpes Simplex Virus. That’s 2 out of 3 people under age of 50 suffering with incurable oral herpes. But while it seems most of us have it, it might not be as frightening as you think.
Understanding the Viruses
HPV comes in 2 types: HSV-1 and HSV-2, both of which are highly infectious and incurable. HSV-1 is passed through oral contact and causes cold sores, while HSV-2 is what you might call the “bad” type, as it is passed through sexual contact and causes genital herpes.
According to the WHO, HSV-1 can also cause genital herpes and there are around 140 million people aged between 15 and 49 who are infected with it globally.
It is thought that as people became more aware of how contagious cold sores were, they were careful not to expose young children to it, which means more and more people have reached adulthood without HSV immunity. This means that younger people are more susceptible to HSV-2 and are exposed to HSV-1 when they begin sexual relations.
Because although HSV-1 lives in mouths and HSV-2 in the genitals, they can swap places, meaning that lovers with HSV-1 can unknowingly spread genital herpes.
Herpes is poorly understood by the public, who might feel stigmatised if they are diagnosed with it despite it being a lot more common than they realise. Once you contract herpes, you have it for life, but you may never know as the symptoms are often mild or don’t show up at all.
Thankfully, you can be easily tested and if you can’t face going to a clinic, it’s now possible to get a home-testing kit. If you are young and looking for London STI testing kits, you can look at https://www.checkurself.org.uk, which will send a free kit and send the results back in the post.
If you are diagnosed with genital herpes, you should visit your GP, who will suggest ways to ease any mild symptoms, or prescribe antiviral tablets to prevent the virus multiplying.
Practice safe sex by using condoms, and if you have any blisters or ulcers, you should avoid having sex at all. If you have a cold sore, you should avoid kissing anyone.