One in five Americans suffer silently from genital herpes, according to immunologist Dr. William Halford, an associate professor of microbiology at Southern Illinois University.
In a conversation with HuffPost Live on Monday, the doctor stressed that our inability to talk openly about herpes might be delaying a vaccine to eradicate the lifelong virus for all.
"We should have a vaccine for the disease, given its prevalence," he said. Globally, a staggering 500 million people carry the virus, though only about 40 million have chronic symptoms. "For people who have [herpes], it can devastate their lives: It cuts into people's ability to have sexual relationships... It isolates people."
Halford explained how attempts to create a subunit vaccine -- meaning a vaccine made from one component of the virus that stimulates immune response -- has largely failed in its mission to wipe out the virus. Instead, his team has developed a live, attenuated vaccine that could offer real hope for eradicating genital herpes.
"We have a lot of data that our approach works about 100 times better than a subunit vaccine approach," he said, likening it to the similarly structured Japan's chicken pox vaccine. "If I can take the vaccine approach that I have forward, I think we would have a way of ending genital herpes," he concluded. "It's that cut and dry."
Watch the rest of Dr. Halford's conversation with HuffPost Live in the clip above.
Sign up here for Live Today, HuffPost Live’s morning email that will let you know the newsmakers, celebrities and politicians joining us that day and give you the best clips from the day before!
ALSO ON HUFFPOST:
HuffPost Lifestyle is a daily newsletter that will make you happier and healthier — one email at a time. Learn more