According to the World Health Organization (WHO), estimates show that more than 3.7 billion people worldwide under the age of 50 have herpes in its oral form. This represents two-thirds of all people under 50 years old.
This announcement is the first time that WHO has tried to place an estimate on the number of cases of herpes across the globe.
Additionally, WHO also says that 140 million people worldwide have received genital herpes by coming into contact with the oral herpes virus. Many of these people live in wealthier countries.
Basically, more people than ever before are getting genital herpes from oral sex. Workers in the medical industry say that it is extremely common.
Medical clinic director Jane Greer says, “We see so much of it. It’s so great that somebody’s finally looked at it. It’s just something that people don’t understand necessarily.”
There are two types of herpes. Type one herpes represents cold sores that occur around the mouth, and in some cases, people with type one herpes experience no symptoms at all.
However, the more troubling type of herpes is that of type two herpes, which occurs below the waist.
Contact of type one herpes through oral sex can lead to type two herpes. A 2012 study showed that 63% of genital herpes are caused by the type one variety of herpes.
Ironically, some scientists believe that fear about sexually transmitted diseases is causing some people to choose oral sex as a replacement for traditional intercourse. This has actually led to an increase in the number of cases of type two herpes.
WHO says that Africa, Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific have the highest overall rates of herpes in the world.
Meanwhile, the type two variety caused by exposure from the type one variety is most common in the Americas and the Western Pacific region.
Half of all type one herpes infections in North and South America occur between the ages of 15 and 49 years old.
For now, WHO hopes that scientists will put more effort into developing a vaccine designed to prevent herpes. But until that happens, the best way to prevent the disease is through awareness.