More than 400 million people worldwide have the virus that causes genital herpes, according to a report published Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE.
The virus — herpes simplex virus type 2 or HSV-2 — infected more than 150 million men and 267 million women in 2012.
Nearly 1 in 3 people in Africa have herpes as well as 14 percent of those in North and South America, according to the World Health Organization.
“But high rates were seen across all regions, making herpes a global public health concern,” according to WHO.
Herpes is mainly a sexually transmitted disease that can cause painful genital ulcers. Herpes also can be transferred from a mother to a newborn during labor.The ulcers help spread HIV infection.
The study researched males and females age 15-49.
The study pushed for the the development of herpes vaccines, treatments and ways to prevent infection. Herpes does not have a cure, according to WHO, but there are antiviral medicines for symptoms.