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Herpes & Syphilis Among Young IDUs
  "Herpes Simplex Virus 2 and Syphilis Among Young Drug Users in Baltimore, Maryland"
source: CDC Natl Prevention Information Network
Sexually Transmitted Infections; Vol.81; No. 3: P. 248-253 (06.05.05):: S.S. Plitt; S.G. Sherman; S.A. Strathdee; T.E. Taha
The current study examines the sex-specific seroprevalence and correlates of herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) and syphilis among a cohort of young drug users. Between October 1999-August 2002, investigators recruited 543 drug users ages 15-30 who used heroin, cocaine, or crack. Baseline interviews gathered information on sociodemographics, drug use, and sexual behaviors. Serum was tested at baseline for HSV-2 and syphilis seroreactivity. For each STI, infected and non-infected participants were stratified by sex and compared using chi-square, Mann-Whitney tests, and logistic regression.
Of participants, 42.4 percent were female and 39.3 percent were African-American. The seroprevalence of STIs among females and males, respectively, were HSV-2: 58.7 percent and 22.0 percent; syphilis: 4.3 percent and 0.3 percent. Multivariate models showed older age, African-American race, having more than 30 lifetime sex partners, current HIV infection, and previous incarceration to be independently associated with HSV-2 infection among males. For females, older age, African-American race, sex trade, and daily heroin use were independently associated with HSV-2. Only a self-reported previous syphilis diagnosis was associated with current syphilis seroreactivity for females in multivariate analyses.
"Examination of this cohort revealed a particularly high seroprevalence of HSV-2 and syphilis, especially among female drug users," the authors concluded. "Few infected participants had been previously diagnosed with these infections."
"Herpes Epidemic Preying Silently on the Uninformed"
The Record (Bergen County, N.J.) (06.26.05):: Ruth Padawer
Although it made headlines in the 1980s, herpes has been somewhat forgotten because of concern about HIV/AIDS. By the early 1990s, an estimated 45 million Americans had herpes simplex virus type 2, the most common cause of genital herpes. Health experts believe the level has stayed relatively steady since then.
"It's still causing problems for millions of people and still a leading STD," said Charlie Ebel, board chairperson of the International Herpes Alliance. "Somewhere between one out of four and one out of five adults has some form of genital herpes. That's a pretty astoundingly high rate of disease."
Since states do not collect data on herpes, exactly how many people have the disease is unknown. Studies have shown that up to 80 percent of people who test positive for herpes antibodies may have symptoms so mild they fail to recognize them, or no symptoms at all. That is a public health concern because active lesions are a risk factor for contracting HIV, and herpes can be passed on even when symptoms are not present.
Recently, antiviral drugs that reduce the number of outbreaks and shorten their duration have become available. To hasten healing, some drugs need to be taken five times a day. To suppress the virus long-term, reducing outbreaks by 75 percent, people stay on the drugs indefinitely.
Experts recommend abstaining from sexual contact when herpes symptoms are present and using condoms between outbreaks to reduce the risks of spreading the disease.
For more information, telephone the National Herpes Hotline 919-361-8488, 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Monday through Friday; or visit the American Social Health Association and National Herpes Resource Center
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