Health Highlights: Oct. 28, 2015

Health Highlights: Oct. 28, 2015

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Herpes Virus Infects Two-Thirds of World’s Population: WHO

Two-thirds of people worldwide — 3.7 billion of those under age 50 — have the virus that causes cold sores, according to the World Health Organization.

The herpes simplex 1 virus (HSV-1) can also cause sores on the genitals and the WHO said oral sex is becoming the main way the incurable virus is passed from person to person, NBC News reported.

“The global burden of HSV-1 infection is huge,” WHO researchers wrote in the journal PLoS One. “An estimated 140 million people aged 15-49 years were calculated to have prevalent genital HSV-1 infection globally in 2012.”

In the Americas, 49 percent of women (178 million) and 39 percent of men (142 million) have HSV-1, the lowest regional rate in the world, WHO said. The rates are 87 percent in Africa and nearly 60 percent in Southeast Asia, NBC News reported.

Another herpes virus — HSV-2 — is the kind most people associate with sexually transmitted infections. This study shows that two kinds of incurable herpes viruses cause large numbers of such infections.


TB Deaths Outnumber Those From HIV/AIDS: WHO

Tuberculosis now kills more people worldwide than HIV/AIDS, according to the World Health Organization.

In 2014, TB killed 1.5 million people while HIV/AIDS killed 1.2 million. Each of those totals includes 390,000 people who had both diseases and died of TB, the Washington Post reported.

The finding that TB now causes more deaths than HIV/AIDS does not come as a surprise because far more money has been spent on developing HIV drugs than TB drugs over the past decade, experts say.

“Investments in TB are a fraction of the amount that is invested in HIV,” Mario Raviglione, director of the WHO’s global TB program, told the Post. “That shows a lack of consideration for what this disease is, how many people it kills and the fact that it is curable.”

TB and HIV/AIDS are closely linked. People with HIV are at increased risk for TB, and TB is the leading cause of death among people with HIV.

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