Oh no, herpes simplex mutated inside a man in France at a kissing festival-the mutation causes HIV like symptoms (AIDS) 20 years after infection. Yet no one seems to notice since you simply have AIDS symptoms and are speculated to have contracted HIV.

  1. Would it rapidly spread just like regular cold sore herpes infected a big portion of humans?

  2. Could it wipe out humanity?

  3. How would society/the governments react after the first victims?

Edit: AIDS and HIV are just widely known examples for fatal uncureable diseases. Not to be taken literally- the idea is certain premature death

  • $\begingroup$ How could a disease that affects nerve cells be "like AIDS" which infects and thus disables the immune-system's cells? $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Jan 27, 2016 at 12:55
  • $\begingroup$ I meant it has deadly but existing symptoms $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 27, 2016 at 17:19
  • $\begingroup$ It reads "HIV like symptoms" maybe you can improve it. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Jan 27, 2016 at 17:31
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ So there is a 20 incubation period... when do you become contagious? Usually when a disease is so widespread in you body that you are contagious it also presents symptoms. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 27, 2016 at 23:24

2 Answers 2


Unlikely. For starters, the current (non-lethal) herpes virus only affects about 16% of people, though there is a wide range depending on the specific population. A 20 year "incubation" time is far too long to cause societal collapse, folks can have families and complete careers in that time frame!

Secondly, as the first lethal HSV patients start to present, the true source of the infection will be found. So not EVERYONE infected will die, just the first few, then anti-virals will be developed, supportive care treatments found, etc. We already have some pretty good treatments for herpes outbreaks.

Much like HIV there will be a massive program for early detection, transmission prevention, and education. Folks who weren't around in the 80's/early 90's won't remember the pretty massive HIV education campaigns, TV shows featuring HIV, etc. Much of our current sexual culture was forged by fear of HIV. Easy to imagine there being a similar cultural affect by lethal HSV (air kissing instead of direct contact, perhaps).


1) Probably yes, since there is no symptom, someone does not assume she/he is infected. But you always will have some isolated groups that will probably not be infected (and Madagascar will close the airport, just to be sure ;-) )

2) This all depend on the mortality rate, but if it has a high mortality rate (and it is fast to kill) then, trough maybe it don't wipe out humanity directly, it can cause a big decline.

3) Once the governments find out the truth, they will probably try to keep it secret, and rush to find a cure, but you can't keep it secret forever and you are trying to cope with a pandemic already burst. Once the news is made public, the society will collapse, above all if there is not a cure and the virus have an high mortality rate, let's say between 75 and 90%. In a case of a low mortality rate and/or an existing cure, probably after an initial shock, the situation will normalize again.

  • $\begingroup$ Why would government keep it secret? Telling people will let them stop the spread of the infection by wearing breath masks, or what ever level of protective gear to make your self safe. The best response to an outbreak is allways is public warring quarantine and research. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 27, 2016 at 23:24
  • $\begingroup$ @sdrawkcabdear The problem is the virus itself. For how it is described, the first victim related to the mutated virus will probably identified well after the outbreak. In this situation you cannot simply annunce something like "75% of the population is infected with a lethal virus that has a 80% mortality rate. And we have not a cure". $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 8:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Gianluca They'd still announce it to prevent the 25% getting it too. $\endgroup$
    – Piomicron
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 15:41

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