What is the global prevalence of herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection?

Updated: Mar 17, 2020
  • Author: Sean P McGregor, DO, PharmD; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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Serologic evidence of HSV infection varies by country. [12, 13] The seroprevalence of HSV-1 is 78.4% in Germany, whereas, it is 42.7% in the Netherlands. [14, 15] A study of two cities in Italy on the prevalence of HSV-1 and HSV-2 from 2000-2014 showed a significant decline in the study population (14.5% decrease in women; 22% decrease in men) for HSV-1 infection and a decline in HSV-2 infection from 22.4% to 11.5%. [16] Similar findings have been seen in the United States. 

Worldwide, the seroprevalence of HSV-1 and HSV-2 is 67% and 11.3%, respectively. [17, 18] As in the United States, HSV-1 prevalence increases with advancing age worldwide. The highest prevalence of HSV-1 and HSV-2 appears to be in Africa. [17, 18]

In the developing world, HSV-2 is becoming a common cause for genital ulcer disease, especially in countries with a high prevalence of HIV infection. [19] International studies show seroprevalence in people co-infected with HIV being close to 90% for HSV-1 and up to 77% for HSV-2. [20]

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