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Herpes simplex virus type 1 and 2 (HSV-1 and HSV-2) are responsible for the labial, ocular and genital herpes. According to the World Health Organization, roughly 3.4 billion people have HSV-1 and 500 million have HVS-2. 

HSV is usually benign, although they do have some complications, such as a higher risk of catching HIV, becoming blind or transmission to newborns which can be deadly.

Herpes is extremely easy to catch: a kiss, a touch and one can catch it. And when it comes to genital herpes, even having protected sex does not necessarily prevent transmission.

To end the stigma and help hundreds of millions of people we have started this petition, to reach out to the US and EU leaders to request them to take action on this issue this year!

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UK: Who We Are


Herpes is a huge concern and linked to many other health issues and fights: HIV, minorities health, women's health, blindness, neonatal herpes, depression and mental health.

Having herpes, wherever you have it, does not mean you've done something wrong, you've just been unlucky. But the consequences go from benign (the usual cold sores) to tragic as you shall see below...

Several vaccines are currently under trial or very advanced in their research. We need to give them more visibility and ensure political leaders and pharmaceutical companies will accelerate their development and commercialization.

That is the goal of our petition.

See it. Sign it. Sorted.

Newborn Baby


"Neonatal herpes is a herpes infection in a young baby. The younger the baby, the more vulnerable they are to the harmful effects of infection. It's caused by the herpes simplex virus, a highly contagious virus that can cause cold sores and genital ulcers in adults." (NHS)

HSV-1 and HSV-2 infection puts newborns at high risk for developing severe and life-threatening symptoms, including: Fatal organ damage, including the liver, lungs, and heart. Serious viral infections, such as viral meningitis. Recurrent sores on the skin, eyes, genitals, or mouth.

It can be transmitted during the delivery (although this condition is rare with the appropriate medication) or by a simple kiss. And it can be deadly to the newborn... 


In a study published recently, it was estimated that "the proportion of new sexually acquired HIV infections for the year 2016 that were attributable to HSV-2 infection was 29·6%. However, this global figure, known as the population attributable fraction (PAF), varied greatly by region. The largest number and highest proportion of HIV infections estimated to be due to HSV-2 infection were in Africa (37·1%). This is because of the greater proportion of people in this region with HSV-2 infection and with HIV. The Americas had an estimated PAF of 21.3% and elsewhere in the world, the PAF ranged between 11 and 13%.

The estimated PAF of HIV attributable to HSV-2 was higher among women than men (34.8% compared to 26.2%), and higher among 25-49-year olds for both sexes compared with younger ages."

Having a vaccine against HSV-2 will be a first step in fighting the spread of HIV and having a vaccine against it as well.

Covid 19
Couple's Shadow


Genital herpes can be caused by both HSV-1 and HSV-2. Worldwide, around 500 million people have genital herpes due to HSV-2, and between 122 million to 192 million people were estimated to have genital HSV-1 infection (WHO figure).

Genital herpes is one the most common STDs and extremely easy to catch. A simple touch may be enough. While both HSV are benign and do not have serious complications (unlike the other STDs), it impacts negatively the life of those who have it, making it complicated to have a love life and intimacy.

Between the stigma, the rejection and the fear of passing on the virus, many experience loneliness, depression, low self-esteem which can lead to suicidal thoughts...

""Genital herpes is a substantial health concern worldwide – beyond the potential pain and discomfort suffered by people living with the infection, the associated social consequences can have a profound effect on sexual and reproductive health” says Dr Ian Askew, Director of the Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research at the World Health Organization (WHO)."


"Herpetic eye disease is the most prevalent infectious cause of corneal blindness in developed countries. Seroprevalence of HSV-1 is over 50% in the US while more than 75% in Germany.[1][2] Approximately 10 million people worldwide may have herpetic eye disease. The global incidence (rate of new disease) of herpes keratitis is about 1.5 million, including 40000 new cases of severe monocular visual impairment or blindness each year."

While medication can help to manage the infection, reducing recurrences and their severity, with no cure to HSV-1 thousands and thousands of people will continue to become severally visually impaired or blind every year.

Image by Victor Freitas
Image by Joel Muniz


More women than men have HSV, especially HSV-2 causing genital herpes, and it impacts them even more negatively than men. Concerning the HSV-2, the WHO indicated that "in 2016 it was estimated that 313 million women and 178 million men were living with the infection. This is because sexual transmission of HSV is more efficient from men to women than from women to men.

Prevalence of HSV-2 infection was estimated to be highest in Africa (44% in women and 25% in men), followed by the Americas (24% in women and 12% in men). Prevalence was also shown to increase with age, though the highest numbers of people newly-infected were adolescents.".

In case of genital herpes, the main concern will be the possibility for a woman to deliver her baby. If in Western countries appropriate medication is available to mitigate the risk (it still concerns 3 newborns for 100,000 births), such medication may not be available to other women in other countries for various reasons (health system, culture, women's rights...).

Additionally, the WHO also indicates that "women have higher biologic susceptibility to both HSV-2 and HIV. Women living in the WHO Africa Region have the highest HSV-2 prevalence and exposure to HIV – putting them at greatest risk of HIV infection, with negative implications for their health and well-being."


Regardless of their countries of origin and/or residence, Black and Gay people are more at risk of catching herpes, especially HSV-2 and consequently are even more exposed to HIV.

It is in Africa where the rates are the highest. It is estimated that in sub-saharan Africa, up to 80% of the Gay people have HSV-2. This extremely high prevalence dramatically increases the risk of the population to catch HIV. 

In the US for instance, the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) in a survey (going from 1999 to 2016) indicates that 20% of the American population has HSV-2, but the prevalence is above 40% amongst Black people. 

Gay men and women, Black men and women, all are confronted to a higher risk of catching HSV-2. And this concerns all of them, regardless of their sexual behaviour. Herpes being extremely easy to catch, as we all know, once is enough (and can even happen by simple touching without any sexual act).

People at Color Run
UK: What We Do


World Health Organization, News release, May 1, 2020

"There is no cure for herpes. Antiviral medications, such as acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir, can help to reduce the severity and frequency of symptoms but cannot cure the infection.

Better awareness, improved access to antiviral medications and heightened HIV prevention efforts for those with genital HSV symptoms are needed globally. In addition, development of better treatment and prevention interventions is needed, particularly HSV vaccines."

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