Herpes Infects One in Six in United States

Jim Liebelt | Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University | Thursday, March 11, 2010

Herpes Infects One in Six in United States

As many as one in six Americans is infected with herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), health officials said.

HSV-2, one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the United States, is a serious, incurable infection that lasts a lifetime, causing recurrent and painful genital sores, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Preventing STDs is a public health challenge that we, as a nation, cannot afford to ignore," Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of the CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, said Tuesday during a news conference.

The CDC estimates that 19 million new STD infections occur every year in the United States, almost half of them among young people, Fenton added.

More than 80 percent of people infected with herpes don't know they are infected, Taylor said, in large part because symptoms can be mild or absent altogether. Symptoms also are often taken to be the sign of another infection.

The new findings on herpes, which were presented at the agency's 2010 National STD Prevention Conference, represent data from the 2005 to 2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which involves households from across the country.

Source: U.S. News & World Report