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Herpes numbers, particularly the rates of genital infections, have decreased over the last decade, according to the latest CDC estimates.

But the incurable infection still afflicts 1 in 8 Americans – and the oral variety of the virus affects about half of Americans, according to the numbers.

The surveys were based on screening for antibodies among the population from 1999-2000 and 2015-2016, they report. The surveillance – from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey – focused on people between the ages of 14 and 49.

Older people, and certain races, showed an increased rate of infection, according to the data brief.

Cases of Herpes Simplex 1, the oral variety of the virus, decreased over the time by 11.3 percent, they found.

Herpes Simplex 2 prevalence decreased over the period by 5.9 percent.

Overall, 48 percent of the people surveyed had the oral form of the virus. The genital variety was present in 12 percent of people, they found.

The racial disparity was stark. More than 70 percent of Mexican-Americans had HSV-1, while black Americans had a 35-percent rate of genital herpes, they added.

Females also reported higher rates of genital forms of the virus, they added.

The estimates are all “conservative,” they add in their data analysis.

The massive numbers of people who are infected with the herpes viruses have been a burgeoning topic of concern in health circles. The pursuit of a vaccine or truly effective treatment to eradicate the virus has been elusive – but prompted methods questioned by some bioethicists. In the meantime, some research has begun to indicate that one particular strain of a herpes virus may be an underlying factor in multiple sclerosis and other brain diseases.

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