When it comes to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), herpes is one of the first types that come into mind. Herpes is one of the most common infections (which also include chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV) that pose serious health risks to infected people.1
Herpes can be caused by either of these viruses: herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1) or type 2 virus (HSV-2). These viruses can result in two types of herpes: genital herpes that’s characterized by sores on or around your genital area, or oral herpes, wherein sores are visible on or around your mouth.2,3
In the U.S., herpes incidences are sadly common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 776,000 people are newly infected with herpes per year.4
Around 15.5 percent of people aged 14 to 49 are infected with the HSV-2 virus — and this is considering that there was already a decrease from 21.2 percent in 1988 to 1994 to the present percentage during 2007 to 2010.5 In England, information from NHS Choices showed that 32,279 people went to a sexual health clinic because of a first time genital herpes attack.6
Data collated in 2012 by the World Health Organization (WHO) showed that 417 million people worldwide had an HSV-2 infection. More women were affected with the disease (267 million) compared to men (150 million). Africa recorded the highest percentage of cases at 31.5 percent, followed by the Americas with 14.4 percent. Adolescents had the highest numbers for new cases, but there is a rise of new HSV-2 cases as people age.7
If you’re wondering why more women had HSV-2 infections compared to men, it’s because the transfer of the virus from a man to a woman is said to be more “efficient” compared to the transfer from a woman to a man.8
As for the HSV-1 virus, around 50 to 80 percent of adults in the U.S. have been exposed to oral herpes. Even more alarming, most Americans may have oral herpes before they even turn 20 years old.9,10
According to the WHO, 3.7 billion people below 50 had acquired an HSV-1 infection as of 2015.11 Just like HSV-2 infections, Africa had the highest percentage of cases at a whopping 87 percent.12 Expect these numbers to rise, as most HSV-1 infections can be acquired during childhood via nonsexual contact.13
It is quite unfortunate that herpes cannot be cured, so different treatments are required to lessen its impact.14 Prescription antiviral medications are usually recommended for herpes patients.15 However, antivirals can come with certain unpleasant side effects.16
To relieve the pain and other discomfort from herpes, over-the-counter (OTC) medications are also often recommended but these, too, come with their own unwanted side effects. Take acetaminophen, the active ingredient of Tylenol, as an example. Acetaminophen poisoning and extensive liver damage can be some of the harmful side effects of this type of drug. Fortunately, there are potent herbs and plants that Mother Nature has to offer that can get the job done as effectively as OTC medicines.
The safety of recommended antiviral medications isn’t the only challenge herpes patients have to face. There is also a negative stigma that arises towards people living with herpes and/or other STDs.
If you wish to know more about herpes and how it can potentially affect you or someone else you know, examine these resource pages thoroughly. Learn more about how the disease is transmitted, the different types of herpes that can affect people, and more importantly, how to cope with and fight the stigma that comes with this disease.