About 60% of people carry HSV type 1 (the type that usually results in cold sores around the mouth) and around 10% carry HSV type 2, which usually causes sores on the genitals. Each year, the number of new people diagnosed is recorded by Public Health England and the most recent statistics from 2013 show that more than 30,000 people were diagnosed in that year.
Genital herpes is the third most common sexually transmitted infection.
- Diagnoses of genital herpes have increased considerably in the last decade. However, greater awareness means that more people are taking their sexual health more seriously and getting tested.
- More men are diagnosed with genital herpes than women and it is more prevalent with homosexuals. Since 2012, the number of diagnoses in England rose by 21% from 1,246 to 1,502 cases. However, in heterosexual couples, twice as many women than men were diagnosed. This might be because straight men are less likely to get themselves checked out.
Most people infected with herpes for the first time are under the age of 25.