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Awkward news: you've probably got herpes

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We know it's not exactly the sort of thing you want to hear on a Friday but, y'know, we have a public duty and all that.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO? Oh, the World Health Organisation), an astonishing two-thirds of the world's population under the age of 50 is infected with the herpes virus.

It's the first global estimate they've made and it's fairly mindblowing. Of these people, over 3.7 billion have the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) which is caught as a child, causing cold sores - where blisters and sores form around the mouth.

Meanwhile, 417 million people around the world have the type 2 version (HSV-2), a more dangerous variant said to increase the risk of catching HIV - and a great number of those with the virus do not realise they are even infected.

Type 2 is usually responsible for genital herpes, but Type 1 is also increasingly responsible; increasing hygiene levels in the west mean a lower chance of catching cold sores when a child, so teens are often having their first exposure when having oral sex - meaning they contract it in a rather more delicate area.

WHO medical officer Sami Gottlieb said, rather stating the obvious: "We really need to accelerate the development of vaccines against herpes simplex virus, and if a vaccine designed to prevent HSV-2 infection also prevented HSV-1, it would have far reaching benefits."

At least it's not chlamydia eh?

(Image: Shutterstock)

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