May 23, 2006
The first nationwide study on the topic has found that one Australian in eight has genital herpes, and 80 percent of those with the virus do not know they have it. The virus was found most often in people ages 35 to 44 and was more common in cities than rural areas. In indigenous communities, almost one in five people was infected. Women were twice as likely as men to contract genital herpes, the study said. "It is not surprising that women have a higher prevalence than men due to their physiology and anatomy," said Adrian Mindel, director of Westmead Hospital Sexually Transmitted Research Center and an author of the study. However, he reiterated it is important for men as well as women who have had multiple partners to be tested for genital herpes. The full report, "Prevalence of Infection with Herpes Simplex Virus Types 1 and 2 in Australia: a Nationwide Population Based Study," was published in Sexually Transmitted Infections (2006;82:164-168).