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 September 28, 2003
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Herpes Common in Suburban Population
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(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Genital herpes is very common in affluent suburban areas, according to a recent study. Although only 4 percent of people reported a history of the condition, results show that one-fourth of people tested positive.

The study took place in six U.S. cities: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, and Denver. There were 5,492 people in the study. Higher levels of education, income, and marital status did not significantly reduce the chances of having genital herpes. Those with household incomes of $60,000 to $80,000 had a prevalence of 25 percent and those with incomes of more than $100,000 had a prevalence of 22 percent. Ruth Westheimer, America's leading sex and relationship therapist, says, "Knowing that herpes is highly prevalent among affluent and educated people living in the suburbs should help to erase some of the stigma associated with the disease." She says this should encourage everyone to always practice safer sex.

Experts say about 1 million people are infected every year with genital herpes. Douglas Fleming, M.D., from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Piscataway, N.J., says, "One of the reasons herpes continues to spread is because very few people with the virus know they have it." Symptoms for genital herpes are often confused with other conditions, such as urinary tract infections, fungal infections, or allergic reactions. It is a contagious viral infection spread through skin-to-skin contact in the genital area, and the virus never leaves the body. There is no cure for herpes, only suppressive treatments, and currently, there are no treatments proven to reduce the risk of spreading herpes to others.

This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to: http://www.ivanhoe.com/newsalert/.

SOURCE: Results presented at the 15th Biennial Congress of the International Society for Sexually Transmitted Diseases Research, Ottawa, July 27-30, 2003

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