- NEW YORK (Reuters Health)
- A new survey shows that many adults in a high-risk category do not believe
that they are at risk of contracting genital herpes.
- Experts note that individuals under age 30 and those
with multiple sex partners are at highest risk for this sexually-transmitted
- The American Social Health Association (ASHA), which
conducted the survey of 1,414 adults and revealed its findings at a news
conference here Thursday, found that 46% of men and 39% of women believe
they are not at risk for genital herpes, even though they currently have
multiple sex partners.
- ``We call this the 'No-not-me' phenomenon,'' said Dr.
Linda Alexander, president of ASHA. ``They understand that the risk is
high if you have multiple partners, but what is most fascinating is that
they did not perceive themselves to be at risk. This represents phenomenal
- The survey also revealed that 22% of women and 17% of
men believe they have been tested for genital herpes, when in fact they
may not have been tested.
- ``One of the great myths surrounding herpes is that people
think they're routinely tested for STDs (sexually transmitted diseases),''
said Alexander, who pointed out that routine blood tests and annual Pap
smears do not generally include tests for the genital herpes virus.
- More than one in five American adults are infected with
the genital herpes virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention. Genital herpes can be transmitted with or without the presence
of symptoms like open sores, and most individuals are diagnosed long after
- ``This produces more anxiety for my patients than the
diagnosis itself,'' said Dr. Hilary Baldwin of the SUNY Health Science
Center at Brooklyn, New York. ``They're overwhelmingly concerned about
from whom they got the infection and to whom they may have already unknowingly
passed it on.''
- According to Alexander, the social stigma surrounding
genital herpes infection plus the results of this survey point to the need
for more public education, and improved communication between sexual partners
and between patients and their health care providers.
- ``If we all continue to walk around as if there aren't
any infections out there, and if we don't make any effort to change the
situation, the epidemics we have today will just propel themselves out
of control,'' she concluded.
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