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U.S. Teens at Higher Risk Than Ever for Contracting Genital Herpes

According to research published in the online version of the Journal of Infectious Diseases in October, today’s U.S. teens are more vulnerable to genital herpes than they were in the past. This is likely a result of lower immune system antibodies that are supposed to shield them against the virus that causes genital herpes.

Why are teens at higher risk for genital herpes?

One of the possible causes of reduced level of these antibodies is that fewer teens get exposed to the herpes simplex virus type I (HSV-1) during childhood. This is a common cause of cold sores.

One decade ago, more teens would have been exposed to HSV-1 and developed some immunity to it. Now, it might be that fewer teens have built immunity — so they are more vulnerable to genital herpes when they become sexually active.

teens more at risk for genital herpes

Genital herpes strains

There are eight types of herpes, but the two that are connected to the disease transmission that we are concerned with are

HSV-1 is usually contracted in childhood. Skin-to-skin contact with an infected adult is the most common way for children to be infected. HSV-2, on the other hand, is usually transmitted via sexual contact. It seems that HSV-1 is now starting to cause genital herpes.HSV-1 and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2.) These two strains cause lifelong infections.

According to the research, HSV-1 is a cause of genital herpes in industrialized countries. The growing trend for young people to be involved in oral sex might be one cause of this shift.

Why are teens more susceptible to genital herpes now?

The recent research suggests that fewer teens have been exposed to HSV-1. That means that fewer U.S. teens have protective HSV-1 antibodies. So, their first sexual encounter leaves them more likely to be infected with genital herpes than teens in the recent past.

Are you worried that you or your teen might have genital herpes? There are affordable testing options that are reliable — find the TEST SMARTLY LABS location near you and call to learn more about genital herpes testing services.

posted in genital herpes,Herpes and have Comments (5)


  1. Comment by Jerroid Marks on November 11, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    this seems like a not so good thing? But the question then becomes how do you expose the kids to the HSV-1 without giving them the virus? Looks like we need to figure this out.

  2. Comment by Mark G. Worster on November 11, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    How is it that children are getting less exposed to the HSV-1 during childhood? How do we make sure to get them exposed earlier so they don’t continue to have this issue?

  3. Comment by Danny Campbell on November 12, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    Germs often mutate when exposed to a virus, in order to keep alive. This is why condoms are so important in preventing these diseases.

  4. Comment by Jenn Cantrell on November 12, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    Sexual awareness and prevention starts in teenagers, so if you want to work towards a healthier future that’s probably where you should start.

  5. Comment by Tim Rebori on November 14, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    It’s not a very comfortable feeling knowing that these diseases are starting to show immunity to antibodies. Hoping that our scientific research doesn’t fail us.

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