Survey: One in Four New Yorkers Has Genital Herpes

More than one fourth of adult New Yorkers are infected with the virus the causes genital herpes, the Department of Health announced today.

Twenty-six percent of New Yorkers have genital herpes, while the national average is 19 percent, according to the DOH. Among New Yorkers, women have a higher instance of genital herpes infection, 36 percent, as compared with men, 19 percent.

According to the report, the herpes infection rate is 49 percent among black New Yorkers and 14 percent among white New Yorkers. Genital herpes is also more common among men who have sex with other men, 32 percent, than among those who do not, 18 percent.

Read the full report here.

The new findings were published this month in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases. The data come from the city’s Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NYC HANES), which used door-to-door interviews and in-person medical exams to assess the health of New Yorkers on a variety of measures, from diabetes to depression.

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The city compared those findings about New Yorkers with national studies and found the higher rate for the Big Apple, said Dr. Julia Schillinger, Director of Surveillance for the Bureau of STP Prevention and Control and the lead author of the report.

One piece of good news among the grim statistics, Schillinger said, is that nationally herpes infections have been trending downward from a decade ago. So that while New York is higher compared with the national average, the trend might also be declining over time.

But she said that most importantly, people need to practice safe sex to prevent the disease from spreading.

"Condoms used correctly and consistently are the best answer to this problem," Schillinger said. "We all know the role condoms play in curbing the spread of HIV. Herpes is another critical reason to use condoms."


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