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LETTER TO EDITOR
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 30  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 126-127

Alarming global estimates of herpes simplex virus 1: A lot needs to be done from the public health dimension


Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication24-May-2016

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh R Shrivastava
3rd Floor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai Village, Thiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Sembakkam Post, Kanchipuram - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0972-4958.182925

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How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Alarming global estimates of herpes simplex virus 1: A lot needs to be done from the public health dimension. J Med Soc 2016;30:126-7

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Alarming global estimates of herpes simplex virus 1: A lot needs to be done from the public health dimension. J Med Soc [serial online] 2016 [cited 2020 May 28];30:126-7. Available from: http://www.jmedsoc.org/text.asp?2016/30/2/126/182925

Sir/Madam,

Herpes infection is a viral communicable disease that is globally distributed, and is of two types, namely herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2). [1] Both forms of herpes are highly infectious and are transmitted via either oral to oral contact (HSV-1) or sexual contact (HSV-2), or even through the perinatal route to the neonates. [1] Even though it is difficult to estimate the proportion of HSV-infected symptomatic people on a global scale, the prevalence of the disease is extremely high. [1],[2]

In fact, the findings of a recently released report suggest that in excess of 3.7 billion individuals less than 50 years of age are infected with HSV-1 worldwide. In addition, a larger proportion of women were infected with HSV-1 than men. [3] Further, the highest prevalence of HSV-1 has been observed in the Western Pacific Region (1,009 million), followed by the South East Asia Region (890 million). [4] However, from the global incidence perspective, maximum incidence has been observed in the African region (35 million), followed by the South East Asia Region (27 million). [3],[4] Thus, it is the need of the hour to improve the data collection methods and estimates so that precise estimates about the disease can be obtained and appropriate interventions can be planned. [4],[5]

The consequences of acquiring HSV-1 infection can prove to be of great public health concern, as the condition is permanent, has no curative option available, is painful in nature (both orolabial and genital ulcers), interferes with the quality of life, increases the risk for stigma/psychological distress among the affected individuals, and can even lead to neonatal morbidities and mortality. All these factors make this disease a major global public health concern. [1],[2],[4]

Furthermore, it has even been reported that apart from causing orolabial herpes, a HSV-1 virus is a major cause of genital herpes. [1] In fact, in high resource settings, close to 140 million individuals in the 15-49 years age group were diagnosed with genital herpes of HSV-1 origin. [3] This is an important public health concern, and it is the responsibility of the program managers, health professionals, and teachers to ensure that the information pertaining to transmission of the disease reaches young people before they become sexually active. [3],[4]

Acknowledging the magnitude of the disease, its universal distribution, a tendency to affect people from all socioeconomic status, and with no cure available for herpes, prevention of the disease remains a crucial aspect in the management/containment of the disease. [1],[3],[4] Advocating for consistent and correct use of condoms or abstaining from sexual activity while experiencing symptoms of genital herpes can significantly reduce the risk of transmission of genital herpes. [4] Further, the severity of symptoms can be reduced by the use of appropriate antiviral drugs and thus, an improvement in the quality of life can be ensured. [4] In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) has fast-tracked the research work to develop herpes simplex virus (HSV) vaccines and topical vaginal/rectal microbicides to protect against sexually transmitted infections. [1],[5]

To conclude, even though the ultimate response to HSV-1 infection is the development of an effective vaccine, nevertheless, till then a considerable progress can be achieved if all the stakeholders work together in a concerted manner to respond to the rising magnitude of the disease globally.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest

 
  References Top

1.
World Health Organization. Herpes simplex virus - Fact sheet N°400; 2015. Available from: target="_blank" href="http://who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs400/en/". [Last accessed on 2015 Oct 29].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Tuokko H, Bloigu R, Hukkanen V. Herpes simplex virus type 1 genital herpes in young women: Current trend in Northern Finland. Sex Transm Infect 2014;90:160.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Looker KJ, Magaret AS, May MT, Turner KM, Vickerman P, Gottlieb SL, et al. Global and regional estimates of prevalent and incident Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 infections in 2012. PLoS One 2015;10:e0140765.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
World Health Organization. Globally, an estimated two-thirds of the population under 50 are infected with herpes simplex virus type 1; 2015. Available from: target="_blank" href="http://who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2015/herpes/en/". [Last accessed on 2015 Oct 31].  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
World Health Organization. Call for more research and greater efforts to prevent and control the spread of herpes simplex virus; 2015. Available from: target="_blank" href="http://who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/rtis/hsv2-estimates/en/". [Last accessed on 2015 Oct 29].  Back to cited text no. 5
    




 

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