STDs and STIs are scary… especially in our current “hook-up culture” where people are having more casual sexual encounters with people they hardly know. When it comes to practicing safe sex, you can never be too careful.
A new World Health Organization report suggesting that 2 out of 3 adults under the age of 50 (which is 67% of the population) are infected with some sort of herpes virus. You don’t need a mathematician to figure out what this means; statistically speaking, the chances you, your last partner, or future hook-up having some variation of the disease are pretty darn high.
But just to put it in numbers…
According to the WHO findings, approximately 3.7 billion people have HSV-1, the herpes simplex virus type 1. While this kind typically only causes mouth/cold sores, it can easily be transferred through unprotected oral sex. And that’s not all.
Approximately 417 million people have HSV-2, herpes simplex virus type 2, which can cause genital herpes. Carriers of type 2 are at greater risk for contracting HIV if they have sex with someone who has an open sore.
And while these numbers are staggering and, quite honestly, terrifying, there may not be a huge need to panic.
Of course, no one wants any type of STD or STI. But, as far as they go, herpes is relatively harmless in most cases. It is obviously a bitch to have to try and hide visible, sometimes painful, sores, and be stuck with the negative stigma associated with herpes.
But this life-long, sexually transmitted infection often has mild symptoms, and sometimes none at all. And it is actually pretty easy to control with the use of antiviral drugs, as well as abstaining from sexual interactions during an “outbreak” of symptoms.
The report also emphasizes the importance of developing a preventative vaccine, which I think is an idea that everyone would be pretty on board with.
“Access to education and information on both types of herpes and sexually transmitted infections is critical to protect young people’s health before they become sexually active,” said Dr Marleen Temmerman, Director of WHO’s Department of Reproductive Health and Research. “The new estimates highlight the crucial need for countries to improve data collection for both HSV types and sexually transmitted infections in general.”
In the meantime? Make sure you keep using condoms and get regular STI testing.
Sex-Ed class, dismissed.