Infectious Disease

Despite the decline in HSV-2, nearly 20 million new infections are still expected by 2050

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Despite a decline in herpes simplex virus type 2 infections over the decades, researchers calculated that more than 600,000 new infections will occur in the United States each year, leading to nearly 20 million new cases by 2050.

Using modeling and national health data to characterize the “developing epidemiology” of the HSV-2 epidemic in the US from 1950 to 2050, the researchers found that it “went through a major transition, leading to two, over a century different experiences for two generations. ”

“From 1950 to the mid-1980s, the epidemic spiked, adding 30 million new infections and affecting nearly a quarter of the US population,” they wrote on the Open Forum Infectious Diseases. “From the mid-1980s, however, the epidemic reversed with rapid declines, followed by stabilization that is expected to continue over the next three decades.”

Laith Jamal Abu Raddad

“[This study was prompted by] the need to assess HSV-2 infection levels in the US to understand the epidemiology of that infection, the number of current and future infections, and the need to develop an HSV-2 vaccine ”. Houssein H. Yesoub, PhD, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Statistics and Physics at the University of Qatar and Laith Jamal Abu Raddad, PhD, Professor of Population Health Sciences at Cornell University’s Weill Cornell Medical College, said Healio.

According to the study, antibody prevalence rose rapidly from 1960, peaking at 19.9% ​​among 15- to 49-year-olds in 1983, before falling to 13.2% by 2020 and 8.5% by 2050. The study showed that the incidence rate peaked in 1971 at 11.9 per 1,000 person-years, decreasing 59% by 2020 and 70% by 2050. In addition, the annual number of new infections peaked at 1,033,000 in 1978 before falling to 667,000 by 2020 and to 600,000 by 2050. The study showed that women were disproportionately affected and had, on average, a 75% higher seroprevalence, a 95% higher incidence rate and a 71% higher annual number of infections. However, in 2020, 78% of infections were acquired by people ages 15 to 34.

According to Houssein and Raddad, the results underscore the level of HSV-2 exposure in the US and demonstrate the need for continued monitoring and the development of prophylactic and therapeutic HSV-2 vaccines.

“In this context, our study provides insights that will influence the development of the business case for HSV-2 vaccines, which is currently being led by the WHO and global partners,” said Houseins and Raddad. “We need a vaccine for such a high incidence and burden of disease that affects tens of millions of Americans.”

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