Genital Herpes Prevalence Down Among Teens, Adults; Number of Syphilis, Other STD Cases Rising, Studies Say
March 9, 2004
Genital herpes prevalence in the United States has decreased "significantly" in recent years, federal health officials said on Monday at the 2004 National STD Prevention Conference in Philadelphia, the New York Times reports. Dr. Fujie Xu and colleagues from CDC tested blood samples for evidence of herpes simplex virus type 2 antibodies. Although the tests cannot determine when a person was infected, rates among young people are considered to be a "measure of more recent risky sexual behavior," according to the Times. According to two national surveys -- one conducted from 1988 to 1994 and the second in 1999 and 2000 -- the prevalence of type 2 herpes, the most common cause of genital herpes, declined 17% over the 12-year period among people ages 14 to 49. Herpes prevalence among people ages 14 to 19 fell 74%, from 5.8% to 1.5%, and among young adults ages 20 to 29, the rate fell 48%, from 17.2% to 8.9% (Altman, New York Times, 3/9). Officials said that the reason for the decline was unclear but that it was consistent with national surveys indicating a decline in risky sexual behavior among U.S. teens, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports (Uhlman, Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/9).
CDC on Monday issued a "Dear Colleague" letter calling on public health programs and private health care providers to offer "comprehensive STD prevention services" for MSM. The letter, signed by Douglas, Division of Viral Hepatitis Director Harold Margolis, Division of Immunization Services Director Lance Rodewald and Divisions of HIV/AIDS Prevention Director Robert Janssen, calls for "integrated services" to prevent all STDs. The letter calls attention to CDC's 2002 STD Treatment Guidelines, which call for all sexually active MSM each year to undergo HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia testing and recieve vaccinations against hepatitis A and B. In addition, the letter says that HIV and STD prevention workers should try to structure programs to address all STDs. MSM seeking preventive or clinical services related to STDs should receive or be referred to all CDC recommended STD prevention services, the letter says (CDC letter, 3/8). "The ... letter comes at a critical time for state and local public health officials battling increases in HIV and STD infections among gay men," Julie Scofield, executive director of the National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors, said in a statement, adding, "Leadership from CDC is essential now to promote integrated preventive and clinical STD services" (NASTAD/National Coalition of STD Directors release, 3/8).
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.