VIA| A study from the World Health Organization found two-thirds of the global population under the age of 50 has the herpes virus.
According to Reuters, the WHO determined over 3.7 billion people of that age range have herpes simplex virus type 1, typically only resulting in cold sores around the mouth.
Most HSV-1 carriers caught the virus during childhood and are safe from the genital infections caused by herpes simplex virus type 2.
The most extreme cases of HSV-1 can lead to severe infections, which can then lead to the brain becoming inflamed.
HSV-1, however, is now causing an increasing amount of genital infections due to hygienic advancements in wealthy nations. These improvements lowered the risk of catching HSV-1 during childhood and, thus, increased the risk of youths catching it when they begin engaging in oral sex later on.
The WHO additionally discovered 417 million people between the ages of 15 and 49 have HSV-2.
This form of the disease is usually sexually transmitted, whereas HSV-1 is largely the result of skin-to-skin contact or the sharing of objects that have touched infected skin, Daily Mail reports.
Carriers of HSV-2 are also more likely to catch or spread HIV, but there does not appear to be a link between HSV-1 and the AIDS-causing virus.
There is currently no cure for either form of herpes, and many carriers do not show symptoms.
Nathalie Broutet, a WHO medical officer, said trials are currently underway to test the effectiveness of therapeutic and preventative vaccines.
Fellow WHO medical officer Sami Gottlieb said,
We really need to accelerate the development of vaccines against herpes simplex virus, and if a vaccine designed to prevent HSV-2 infection also prevented HSV-1, it would have far reaching benefits.
A vaccine previously tested by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline yielded some success in combating HSV-1, Gottlieb added.
She called the trial results “promising” and cited them as proof it is not impossible to develop a herpes vaccine.