A new World Health Organization report suggests that in all likelihood, you, your last partner, and your next one probably have some sort of herpes virus.
In its first estimate of the STD's worldwide prevalence, the WHO found that 2 out of 3 under-50s are infected: Some 3.7 billion people have the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), which tends to cause only mouth sores but can be transferred below the belt through unprotected oral sex. On top of that, 417 million people have herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), which causes genital herpes.
The report vaguely mentions that carrying HSV-2 is associated with a greater risk of catching and spreading HIV, which could happen if you have sexual contact with someone who has HIV and you have an open herpes sore. It also makes a desperate plea for researchers to develop a preventative vaccine. But there's one thing it fails to clarify: In most cases, herpes is pretty harmless—even though it carries a persistent stigma that it can't seem to knock. Sure, outbreaks are annoying because the symptoms can be so visible, but they're controllable with antiviral drugs, and generally NBD so long as you abstain from sexual contact whenever symptoms are present, which can occur infrequently or never, since many herpes virus carriers are asymptotic.
That doesn't mean you should screw STI testing and trash your condom stash. (Bad idea, considering both precautions can protect you from contracting and spreading the lifelong virus and other more dangerous STIs.) It just means it's time to give herpes carriers (i.e., 2 out of 3 people you know) a much-needed break.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.