Who is affected by genital herpes

Genital herpes is one of the three most prevalent sexually transmitted diseases in the United States and one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases worldwide.

  • At least 50 million people in the U.S. have genital herpes.1
  • Most genital herpes infections are acquired by the age of 30.2
  • More women than men have genital herpes. Recent research estimates that more than 910,000 women are newly infected with herpes simplex virus(HSV-2) each year.3
  • The greatest increase in genital herpes infection in the past decade has been among teenagers.
  • The risk for transmission from an infected mother to her newborn is highest (30% to 50%) for mothers who have a primary infection but who may not have apparent blisters or sores. If a pregnant woman has recurrent outbreaks, the risk of passing the virus to the baby is reduced to less than 1%.1


  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2006). Genital HSV infections. Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines 2006 (CDC Publication Vol. 55, No. RR-11), pp. 16–20. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/std/treatment/2006/rr5511.pdf.
  2. Casper C, Wald A (2002). Condom use and the prevention of genital herpes acquisition. Herpes, 9(1): 10–14.
  3. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2004, reaffirmed 2006). Gynecologic herpes simplex virus infections. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 57. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 104(5): 1111–1117.

Last Updated: January 13, 2009

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