Because Children Today Have Fewer Cold Sores, They Could Get More Genital Herpes

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New science reveals that teens now are less probably to have been exposed to oral herpes or cold sores growing up, and so may be more susceptible to genital herpes once they become sexually active.

Let us begin by thinking about the awkwardness of sexual education for a second. You may remember the illustrated figures on overhead transparencies, two types of HSV or herpes simplex virus exist: HSV-1 (which typically causes cold sores on the oral area) and HSV-2 (which usually causes genital herpes).

These viruses are common. Antibodies for HSV-1 are found in approximately half the United States population, and for HSV, in approximately a sixth. And unluckily, once HSV is in your system, it remains there permanently.

herpes-children Because Children Today Have Fewer Cold Sores, They Could Get More Genital Herpes
Children get genital herpes more.

Herpes Happens

In the research, experts with the CDC looked at the HSV antibodies’ prevalence in Americans from the ages of 14 to 49. (Bear in mind that this indicates HSV exposure, but not necessarily that an individual develops actual HSV sores.) They compared 1999-2004 (an earlier period) with 2005-2010.

Between these periods, the experts discovered that the total number of individuals with antibodies for HSV-1 in their blood dropped by 7%, while HSV-2 remained steady. However, in teens, the HSV-1 antibody decrease was much more intense, dropping 23%.

Change in Habits

That is due to a concurrent alteration in sexual practices that means HSVs are not strictly genital or oral these days. HSV-1 can spread further than the mouth, possibly as oral sex is getting popular. With both viruses able to infect the genital area, teens have a higher risk of contracting the virus.

In the research published in “The Journal of Infectious Diseases,” scientists require more study on the herpes viruses to determine the varying risks better. The virus can’t only cause recurring sores all through an individual’s life, but a woman may also transmit the infection to her newborn during the vaginal delivery, which can be fatal for a baby whose immune system is still undeveloped.

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