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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

Genital Herpes and Public Health


Journal of the American Medical Association (02/09/00) Vol.

Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex viruses (HSV) and is one of the three most prevalent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the United States. The disease affects people chiefly between the ages of 15 and 40. One problem related to the high number of HSV infections is that the symptoms are unrecognized and mild infections often do not attract medical attention. Most symptoms include painless ulcers, dysuria, or discharge from the genitals. Many infected people do not get lesions and are unaware of the infection, and thus are at risk of unknowingly transmitting the disease. Neonatal herpes is the most serious problem associated with the infection, but the mother can be treated. Genital ulcers also increase HIV transmission, and HSV infection has been implicated in HIV transmission. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's advisory panel has recommended type-specific testing for HSV, and better serologic tests are now available. Clinicians can use viral culture to detect HSV when diagnosing genital ulcer disease. Patients should also be counseled to avoid HSV transmission during sex by using condoms.


Copyright © 2000 -CDC Prevention News Update, Publisher. All rights reserved to Information, Inc., Bethesda, MD. The CDC National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention provides the following information as a public service only. Providing synopses of key scientific articles and lay media reports on HIV/AIDS, other sexually transmitted diseases and tuberculosis does not constitute CDC endorsement. This daily update also includes information from CDC and other government agencies, such as background on Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) articles, fact sheets, press releases and announcements. Reproduction of this text is encouraged; however, copies may not be sold, and the CDC HIV/STD/TB Prevention News Update should be cited as the source of the information. Contact the sources of the articles abstracted below for full texts of the articles.

Information in this article was accurate in February 16, 2000. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.