Rates of Herpes Simplex Virus Down in US Adults

Megan Brooks

February 07, 2018

Fewer Americans aged 14 to 49 years have herpes simplex virus (HSV) types 1 and 2 today than 15 years ago, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

During 2015-2016, the age-adjusted prevalence of HSV-1 was 48.1%, down from 59.4% in 1999-2000. The age-adjusted prevalence of HSV-2 was 12.1% in 2015-2016, down from 18.0% in the earlier period.

The prevalence of both HSV-1 and HSV-2 increased linearly with age and was higher among females than males, Geraldine McQuillan, PhD, and colleagues from the NCHS report in a data brief released February 7.

In 2015-2016, the prevalence of HSV-1 was highest among Mexican-American individuals (71.7%) and lowest among non-Hispanic whites (36.9%). HSV-2 prevalence was highest among non-Hispanic black persons (34.6%) and lowest among non-Hispanic Asian individuals (3.8%).

"Differences by race and Hispanic origin, and the increasing prevalence with increasing age for both HSV-1 and HSV-2, have been reported previously. The higher prevalence of HSV-2 among females has also been reported," the authors note in their report.

The data are derived from the 2015-2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for individuals aged 14 to 49 years. "NHANES does not include populations that may be at higher risk for acquiring HSV-2 (eg, those incarcerated and the homeless). Therefore, these data may provide conservative estimates of both HSV-1 and HSV-2 in the US population aged 14–49," the authors point out.

NCHS Data Brief 304. Published online February 7, 2018.

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