How Common Is Genital Herpes?

Medically Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD on March 05, 2024
1 min read

Genital herpes infection, a sexually transmitted disease, is common in the U.S, affecting 1 out of 6 people ages 14 to 49. Most people, however, have not been diagnosed, and many don't have symptoms.

Genital herpes is highly contagious. This infection is usually caused by the herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2) or the herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1), the virus responsible for cold sores around the mouth and lips. Infection with HSV-2 may make it easier to get HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

HSV-2 infection is more common in women (approximately 1 out of 5 women) than in men (almost 1 out of 9). This may be because male-to-female transmission is easier than female-to-male transmission. HSV-2 infection is also more common in the black population and least common among Asians.

The good news is that HSV-1 and HSV-2 infections have been decreasing in the population.