Twenty-six percent of adult New Yorkers are infected with the virus that causes genital herpes. That’s seven points above the national average. A new study by the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene found that the disease is more common among women, African-Americans and gays.
While most people don’t show herpes symptoms, the disease can double a person’s chances of contracting HIV.
New York Department of Health (press release):
NEW YORK CITY - June 9, 2008 - The Health Department reported today that more than a fourth of adult New Yorkers are infected with Herpes Simplex Virus-2, the virus that causes genital herpes. HSV-2 is a lifelong sexually-transmitted infection that can cause painful genital sores in a minority of cases, but most people have no recognizable symptoms. The prevalence of the condition is also concerning because it facilitates the spread of HIV—doubling the risk that a person will contract HIV when exposed to it. HSV-2 can also be serious when transmitted to newborns, although these cases are rare.
The new study suggests that genital herpes is more common in New York City than nationally (26% of adults versus 19%). Among New Yorkers, the rate is higher among women than men (36% versus 19%), higher among blacks than whites (49% versus 14%), and higher among men who have sex with men than those who don’t (32% versus 18%). This is the first measurement of New York City’s infection rate, but the national rate has declined in recent years.