Given the enormous stigma surrounding herpes, it’s not surprising that sufferers aren’t an out-and-proud bunch. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 5 American adults (50 million people) has genital herpes (HSV-2), though most are blithely unaware. The virus has earned a reputation as a “silent epidemic,” both because so many people unknowingly contract and transmit it, and because it’s not a condition that inspires a lot of public discussion or advocacy. How often do people run 5Ks for herpes?
A lot of people — the herpes community, infectious disease experts and others who’d like one less reason to fear skin-on-skin contact — demand a vaccine get on the market. But after three decades of failed experiments aimed at developing one, we still don’t have it.