One in six Americans are infected with genital herpes. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, this new estimate makes herpes one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the U.S.
"About 21 percent of women were infected with genital herpes, compared to only 11.5 percent of men, while 39 percent of blacks were infected compared to about 12 percent for whites," the CDC said.
There is no cure for the virus.
The CDC says this is public health challenge the nation cannot afford to ignore. They estimate 19 million new STD infections happen every year -- most of them among young people. It costs the healthcare system about $16 billion annually.
"The message is herpes is quite common. The symptoms can be often very innocuous," Dr. John Douglas of the CDC said in a teleconference.
"Because herpes is so prevalent it becomes ... a really important reason to use condoms on a consistent and correct basis with all of your partners," Douglas said.