Herpes itself is not life threatening to the person that has it. It is a localized viral skin infection – no more of a problem than a cold sore on the mouth. Besides causing outbreaks, the virus doesn’t do any harm itself. It IS highly stigmatized socially, and that is the main problem for sufferers.
However, having (genital) herpes is linked to an increased risk of contracting the following conditions:
- AIDS: The Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 is linked to a higher chance of contracting the HIV virus, since the herpes lesions create an ideal environment for the rapid spread of the HIV virus.
- Cervical cancer: HSV 2 is also linked to a a higher chance of developing cervical cancer in women.
- Oral Cancer: Patients with oral cancer have a higher-than-average chance of having HSV1 antibodies in their blood. This suggests that there is a positive correlation between Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 and oral cancer
There has been no conclusive research conducted on how either HSV1 or HSV2 affects life expectancy. This does not mean that you cannot die from herpes indirectly. Since you can clearly die from the illnesses mentioned above, it is not unlikely that herpes has the potential to indirectly reduce the life expectancy from those who suffer from it. It actually makes it likely that herpes has a small negative influence on your life expectancy, but it would take long and expensive clinical trials to come up with conclusive scientific evidence.
Newborns Can Die From Herpes
If you have genital herpes and are pregnant, there is a small risk of passing the virus to the baby during a vaginal delivery. This is most common when a mother catches herpes during the pregnancy – otherwise, it is pretty rare, given that one in four pregnant women has genital herpes. Neonatal herpes is a serious infection, because it can be devastating to a newborn.
A baby born with herpes might die or have serious brain, skin, or eye problems. Pregnant women who have herpes, or whose sex partner has herpes should discuss the situation with her health care provider. Together they can make a plan to reduce her or her baby’s risk of getting infected. Babies who are born with herpes do better if the disease is recognized and treated early.