May 30, 2002
Currently, experts estimate that about 60 million Americans older than 12 are infected with genital herpes, and possibly as many as 1 million people are newly infected each year, according to Dr. Peter Leone of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Leone spoke at a press conference in New York to announce the findings of the new survey sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline.
The survey found that only about 16 percent of respondents have been tested for HSV-2 (genital herpes), and nearly one-quarter reported that they do not take specific action to learn about their partners' sexual health. Overall, 42 percent reported that they have never been tested for any STD.
In other findings, 72 percent of the men and women who responded to the survey knew that genital herpes is an incurable STD, and 56 percent were aware that it can be transmitted even when a person is not experiencing symptoms or a visible outbreak.
Dr. Laura Berman, of the Female Sexual Medicine Center at the University of California-Los Angeles Medical Center, expressed concern about young people who falsely believe that oral sex may present little or no risk of STDs, including genital herpes. She said there is a belief among teens that having only oral sex is "akin to abstinence."
The survey included 800 men and women ages 18 to 54 residing in New York City, San Diego, Chicago and Atlanta.