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Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

The average herpes statistics can be somewhat of a surprise. This virus is more prevalent and close to home than many may think and it is important for all of us as a human family to understand just what the reality of the situation is. Through our understanding we can come to see genital herpes in a broader perspective than its current position as a virus with many stigmas attached.


Genital Herpes Statistics

  • In America nationwide, 1 out of 5 of the total adolescent and adult population is infected with genital herpes.
  • Herpes infections are more common in women (approximately 1 out of 4 women) than in men (almost 1 out of 5 men).
  • Male-to-female transmission is potentially more effective in the transmission of genital herpes than female-to-male.
  • 1 in 5 Americans have genital herpes (yet at least 80% of those with herpes are unaware they have it).
  • About 80% of American adults have oral herpes (cold sores).
  • An estimated 25% of American adults have genital herpes.
  • Genital herpes affects approximately 1 in 6 Australian adults.
  • Approximately two-thirds of people who acquire STDs in the United States are younger than 25. [1,3]
  • About 1 in 5 people in the United States over the age of 12 (approximately 45 million individuals) are infected with HSV-2, the virus that causes genital herpes.[2]
  • According to the A.H.M.F. (Australian Herpes Management Forum) genital herpes is highly under-diagnosed. Of all the people with the 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. Often the symptoms are so subtle that they are dismissed or the symptoms which do occur are usually misdiagnosed as being something other than the virus.
  • At least 1 in 4 Americans will contract an STD at some point in their lives.
  • Up to 1 million new genital herpes HSV-2 infections may be transmitted each year in the United States.[1]
  • Costs associated with genital herpes totaled to approximately $237 million in 1994.[3]
  • Genital herpes infections are more common among African Americans (45.9%) than among White Caucasians (17.6%).
  • Since the late 1970s, the number of Americans with the genital herpes infection has increased by 30%.
  • The largest increase of genital herpes has been among young White teenagers.
  • Genital herpes infections are now 5 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.

Genital herpes and cold sores are more common than many of us know. If you have any strain of the herpes simplex virus you are far from alone. Spreading the knowledge will help us prevent spreading the virus so get others informed and share what you have learned..



1. American Social Health Association. Sexually Transmitted Diseases in America: How Many Cases and at What Cost? Menlo Park, CA: Kaiser Family Foundation, 1998.

2. Fleming DT, et al. Herpes Simplex Virus type 2 in the United States, 1976 to 1994. NEJM 1997;337:1105-11.

3. 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.

Other Resources:

National Center for Health Statistics (US)
Provides US public health statistics including diseases, pregnancies, births, aging, and mortality. Public use data files are available for download

National Statistics Online (UK)
Data on economy, population and society at national and local level. Summaries and detailed data releases are published free of charge

Statistics Canada: the national statistical agency (Canada)
Statistics Canada ( provides economic, social and census data / Statistique Canada ( fournit des données sur l’économie

This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. I don’t understand how the statistic stating that HSV is more common in African Americans than White Americans is relevant. Why would you specifically compare those 2 demographics?

    1. Hi Miranda,

      We try to encompass as much useful information as we can into our resource, and for some people these types of statistics might be helpful.

      Herpes affects everyone in all walks of life and from all different families. This is not to place judgement or seclusion on any race, it is only helpful in knowing the areas of our community that may need support and awareness more than most.

      I’d love to know your feedback as well as what other readers think – are these types of statistics really helpful or do they place unnecessary stigma on minority groups?

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