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Facts and Figures


  • Infection is more common in women (approximately one out of four women) than in men (almost one out of five).
  • Male-to-female transmission is more efficient than female-to-male transmission.

Cold Sores

  • Around 70 percent of American adults have oral herpes (cold sores).

Genital Herpes

  • An estimated 25 percent of American adults have genital herpes.
  • About one in five people in the United States over age 12 (approximately 45 million individuals) are infected with HSV-2, the virus that causes genital herpes.[2]
  • Genital herpes affects approximately one in six Australian adults
  • According to the A.H.M.F. (Australian Herpes Management Forum) genital herpes is under-diagnosed – of people with genital herpes simplex virus infection only 1 in 5 are diagnosed and, up to 80% of cases of genital herpes are not recognized as such by clinicians.
  • Up to 1 million new HSV-2 infections may be transmitted each year in the United States.[1]
  • Costs associated with genital herpes totaled approximately $237 million in 1994.[3]
  • Genital herpes infection is more common among African Americans (45.9%) than among White Caucasian (17.6%).
  • Since the late 1970s, the number of Americans with genital herpes infection has increased 30%.
  • The largest increase of genital herpes is among young White teenagers.
  • Genital herpes infection is now five times more common in 12- to 19-year-old White adolescents.
  • Genital herpes is twice as common among young adults ages 20 to 29 than it was 20 years ago.

STDs in general

  • Approximately two-thirds of people who acquire STDs in the United States are younger than 25.[1][3]
  • At least one in four Americans will contract an STD at some point in their lives.


  • ^ “American Social Health Association. Sexually Transmitted Diseases in America: How Many Cases and at What Cost? Menlo Park, CA: Kaiser Family Foundation, 1998.”
  • ^ “Fleming DT, et al. Herpes Simplex Virus type 2 in the United States, 1976 to 1994. NEJM 1997;337:1105-11.”
  • ^ Institute of Medicine. Committee on Prevention and Control of Sexually Transmitted Diseases. The Hidden Epidemic: Confronting Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Eng TR and Butler WT, eds. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1997.

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