CDC: 1 in 6 people is infected with herpes

By Sheldon Dutes  bio | email | Twitter

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - For every six people you meet, one of them could be infected with Herpes Simplex 2, which is better known as genital herpes.

These statistics, recently released by the Centers For Disease Control, are especially scary because experts say people who have herpes are two to three times more likely to become infected with HIV.

Dr. William Baly is the Associate Medical Director at the Franklin C. Fetter Family Health Center in downtown Charleston. Although Baly hasn't seen a particular increase in the number of patients with Herpes symptoms, he's still alarmed by the recent CDC's statistics.

"It shows me a lot of people are not aware or educated on how to protect themselves from contracting the virus," Dr. Baly said.

African American women appear to be the most affected. According to the CDC, they make up almost half of virus' reported cases.

Genital Herpes is spread from skin to skin contact and is usually passed during intercourse. Its symptoms vary, but they're usually very noticeable and painful.

"The sores are blister like with some redness and they're fluid filled. It's usually tender and painful. It can burn and it's very uncomfortable," Dr. Baly added.

Although these are the tell-tale signs, 80% of people infected with herpes don't even know they have it.

"The virus hides in the nervous system. So, there's usually a period where you don't have the blisters, but you actually have the virus. It's difficult to know who has the virus because some people are walking around without sores," Baly said.

If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to have a candid conversation with your doctor at your next visit.

Blood tests will determine if someone is infected with Herpes.

Right now there is no cure for Genital Herpes, but if you become infected, it's not a life sentence.

Abstinence is the best way to prevent the spread of herpes, but there are some ways to reduce your risk.

"Monogamy, using a latex condom and knowing your partner's sexual history are all ways to prevent your risks of exposure," Baly said.

For more information on getting tested call the Tri-County Public Health Office at 953-0038.

©2010 WCSC. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.