26 percent of NYC has genital herpes

June 9, 2008 at 4:22 PM
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NEW YORK, June 9 (UPI) -- Twenty-six percent of New York City residents have genital herpes, compared to 19 percent nationally, New York health officials say.

Herpes Simplex Virus-2, the virus that causes genital herpes, is a lifelong sexually transmitted infection that can cause painful genital sores in a minority of cases, but most have no recognizable symptoms.

Herpes Simplex Virus-2 facilitates the spread of HIV -- doubling the risk that a person will contract HIV when exposed to it. Herpes Simplex Virus-2 can also be serious when transmitted to newborns, although this is rare, officials said.

The study, published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases, said that among New Yorkers, the rate is higher among women than men -- 36 percent versus 19 percent; higher among blacks than whites -- 49 percent versus 14 percent; and higher among men who have sex with men than those who don't -- 32 percent versus 18 percent. The national rate has declined in recent years.

"Genital herpes alone will not cause serious problems for most people," lead author Julia Schillinger of the health department said in a statement. "But some people will have painful genital sores and the infection fosters the spread of HIV. Using condoms consistently will help you avoid getting or spreading genital herpes."

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