Feature

Health scare of the week: Herpes marches on

According to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six Americans is infected with the herpes virus.

Public health warnings to use condoms and practice safe sex are having no measurable effect on the epidemic of genital herpes. One in six Americans is infected with the virus, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Herpes simplex 2 can cause blisters and sores on genitals, and can be transmitted even when there are no active symptoms. About 80 percent of people infected with the virus don’t know it. Among African-Americans, the infection rate is much higher—39 percent, which is more than triple the rate among whites. “This study serves as a stark reminder that herpes remains a common and serious health threat,” Kevin Fenton of the CDC tells Bloomberg.com. Previous research has showed that because herpes can create openings in the skin and mucus membranes of genitalia, people with the disease are up to three times more likely to contract HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

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