Worldwide, it is estimated that 67% of persons aged 0-49 years are infected with herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). The infection is most commonly acquired during childhood, and seropositivity increases with age. Among US adults aged 14-49 years, 47.8% are infected with HSV-1 and 11.9% are infected with HSV type 2 (HSV-2). Prevalence of both HSV-1 and HSV-2 is higher among women than men. Although, overall, HSV-2 seroprevalence has declined in cross-sectional surveys, a disproportionate representation by certain at-risk populations has persisted, particularly among non-Hispanic blacks. Additionally, rates of genital herpes due to HSV-1 in the US may be increasing. Worldwide, it is estimated that more than 140 million people aged 15-49 years are living with genital HSV-1, a prevalence of 4%. Of STI clinic attendees, 30% to 50% are HSV-2 seropositive, and 20% to 30% of women in US antenatal clinics are HSV-2 seropositive. From 10% to 25% of HSV-2 seropositive people have a history of genital herpes lesions and most others have mild and unrecognised disease. Worldwide, HSV-2 is the most common cause of genital ulcer disease. HSV-2 infection is a risk factor for HIV-1 acquisition and transmission. In England, HSV-2 seroprevalence in 16-64-year-olds is 9.7%. Recurrence rates of genital HSV-2 are more frequent than oral-labial HSV-1 infections.
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