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How Common Is Genital Herpes?

Genital herpes infection is common in the U.S. Nationwide, over 24 million men and women are infected with HSV-2, the virus that causes genital herpes, And there are 776,000 new HSV-2 infections each year. About 16% of Americans between the ages of 14 and 49, or one in 6, is infected with the virus. In addition, there is an increasing number of cases of genital herpes that are attributed to an HSV-1 infection, the usual cause of cold sores. Along with causing genital herpes, infection with HSV-2 can facilitate infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

HSV-2 infection is more common in women (approximately 1 out of 5 women) than in men (almost 1 out of 9). This may be because male-to-female transmission is more efficient than female-to-male transmission. HSV-2 infection is also more common in blacks (39.2%) than in whites (12.3%). Factors that influence race differences in prevalence of infection include a higher rate of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in African-American communities and access to quality health care.

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What Is a Sex Therapist?

The couple arrived at my office with a common problem. They had an 8-month-old and a 3-year-old. The husband was starved for physical contact and had been since baby No. 1 was born. But between the nursing infant and the clinging toddler, the wife was getting just about as much physical contact as she could stand. Over the course of several sessions, I explored what might be affecting their sex life by asking them some gentle questions. Could the mother have postpartum depression? Was the coupl...

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Since the late 1990s, the number of Americans with genital herpes infection has remained about the same. Young people between the ages of 15 and 24, however, are the most likely to get a new STD infection. Half of all the new STD infections are in this age group, though they only reflect about 25 percent of the total population.

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Lisa B. Bernstein, MD on May 22, 2015

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