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Varying Stats

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Seems like the numbers are all over the place concerning herpes. I've read 1 in 4 and up to 1 in 7 people have herpes. Up to 80% of people have it and don't know it, and up to 90%. I've read that 99% of cold sores are HSV1 and another that said 90% of cold sores are HSV1. Which is it for crying out loud?

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@Dave Percentage of infected people is highly dependent on age and gender. For instance, the 1 in 6 number you often see reflects all 14-49 year olds, males and females, 29% of whom have not yet had sex. But women are typically infected at twice the rate of men and infection rates increase with age, so it is accurate to say 1) 16% of 14-49 years olds have HSV2, and 2) 50% of 45 year old single and divorced women have HSV2. And every once in a while GHSV1 will be included in genital herpes statistics, so then you may see something like "up to 75% of 50 year old single women have genital herpes." Additionally, some groups have a higher risk of infection, such as groups in which there are fewer males than females, resulting in males having more sexual partners than average and more efficiently contracting and transmitting the virus (risk increases with number of partners and when penises are involved). Examples would be segregated dating pools within some black communities and nursing homes. In those settings, an 80% infection rate of HSV2 among women would not be uncommon.


As for how many people don't know they have it, the most precise number I've seen is that only 12.4% have been diagnosed and a rough estimate of 80-90% are unaware of their positive status. Some of this is covered in Terri Warren's Herpes Handbook which is available for free online if you're interested.


ETA: As for how many cases of cold sores are caused by HSV, I have only ever seen 98% and 99% referenced. I've never seen the 90% number you mentioned.

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Yes I have the handouts but even those are different than what other experts are saying. I understand the numbers are different for age groups and sex, but when the numbers are thrown out there, they don't speak of age or sex. So it just confuses the uniformed.

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Can I ask why the numbers matter? It helps to know that it's not a rare virus and many people carry it, but after that?? What does the numbers do for you?


I'm just asking because I wonder why people focus so much on the stats. In a group of people you can guesstimate the probability of carriers but why? What's the point?

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Why it matters, is for disclosure. I know HSV is not a big deal and really very common. But the uninformed fear it. So when I quote a number, to reassure them and they look it up and find a unfavorable number, it makes me look untruthful. The numbers do matter to reassure them. Plus, it just seem ridiculous when the references doesn't match each other.

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Ah, disclosure. For some reason I wasn't even thinking of that. I think if I had to disclose I'd just say that it is a very common virus, and more people have it than you realize. Or something to that effect. Maybe a ballpark figure so that it doesn't appear that you are being deceptive. (Something along the lines of "About 90-95 percent of the population has this")


I get your irritation with the variation in facts. I complained of the same thing in my first post on the forum. I finally just figured I'd just stick to this site and the CDC for information.

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The people that fear herpes probably don't realize that they can get it from kissing someone and that person they're kissing, probably doesn't know they have it. And who ever asks before a kiss, if that person has ever been tested for HSV? No one does!

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