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High Herpes Rate Found in Metro Atlanta
  Atlanta Journal-Constitution Catherine E. Shoichet
July 31, 2003
A recent study showed that more than one-third of participants surveyed in suburban Atlanta tested positive for the virus that causes genital herpes. The study, presented recently
at a meeting of the International Society for Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Ottawa, shows that patients in affluent suburbs are as likely as lower-income patients to contract the disease.
Only 5 percent of the 915 Atlanta-area patients had a history of genital herpes, which can be asymptomatic. Atlanta had the highest rate of infection of the six cities in the survey, and a higher rate than the national average of about 25 percent.The study's authors used results from blood tests of patients at six unidentified, randomly selected primary care physician's offices in suburban Atlanta. Combining the Atlanta results with those of more than 4,500 patients in suburbs of Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, and Denver, researchers found that one in four patients tested positive.
"These findings help to break the stereotype that there are only certain types of people that have herpes," said Douglas Fleming, the study's lead author and an assistant professor at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Piscataway, N.J.
The study may also have an impact on doctors. "When you talk to private physicians, there's a tendency to think that isn't really true of their population," said Peter Leone, co-author and an associate professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. "If physicians don't believe that it's important for their patient population... they may not think of doing testing."
CDC estimates 1 million people are newly infected with the virus each year in the United States.
"Study Says STD Risk Higher for Young Working Women"
Seattle Times Julia Sommerfeld
August 1, 2003
Single, working women ages 18 to 25 are having even more unprotected sex, with more partners, than college students, according to research released today by Group Health. A telephone survey of 1,100 single women found that among sexually active young women outside the college setting, 61 percent reported having sex without a condom in the past three months, compared to 56 percent of female college students. A higher percentage of women ages 21 to 25 reported having unsafe sex than women ages 18 to 20. Those with more sex partners were more likely to have unprotected sex than those in monogamous relationships. Two-thirds of the women surveyed were from the Puget Sound area, and one-third from North Carolina.
Study co-author Delia Scholes, associate investigator at Group Health's Center for Health Studies, said despite having unsafe sex, the young women weren't worried about the risks.
Seventy-eight percent felt they were at low risk for contracting an STD.
Despite their feelings of immunity, this group is hard hit by STDs. About 70 percent of STDs diagnosed in Washington state are in women under 25. Also, 77 percent of the state's 15,000 reported cases of chlamydia last year were in women between 15 and 24. Gonorrhea, the second most common Washington STD, infects women ages 20 to 24 more than any other age group.
The findings are "very counterintuitive," according to Lisa Gilbert, director of research at the American Social Health Association, an STD awareness group. "You would certainly expect they would get less wild, more mature and make better decisions as they get older," she said. She speculated that safe sex is more on the minds of college students, since safe sex messages proliferate on campus.
The full report, "Factors Associated with Condom Use Among At-Risk Women Students and Nonstudents Seen in Managed Care," was published in the journal Preventive Medicine (2003;37;(2):163-170).
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