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Genital Herpes Virus Frequent In Teens

Herpes increases the risk of HIV infection

According to data presented by University of Toronto researcher Dr. Rupert Kaul at the August 2006 International AIDS conference, infection by the Herpes Simplex 2 virus results in an increased number of HIV-susceptible mucosal cells in the genital tract.

The risk of HIV infection is increased by five times in North Americans with herpes and ten times in Africans. Herpes infection rates are as high as 70 percent in some parts of Africa.

["The Herpes-HIV Connection; McMaster University Professor Leads AIDS Conference Panel Exploring Risk Factors," Hamilton Spectator, 08-19-06; Abstinence Clearinghouse E-Mail Update, 8/23/06]

[ed. This STD connection has been known for years.]


GENITAL HERPES INFECTIONS FREQUENT IN ADOLESCENT GIRLS. While none of the young women in the study had oral or genital herpes symptoms, some of those who tested positive for the virus were shedding it in their vaginal area, meaning it would be possible for them to transmit the infection to others, Dr. Kenneth H. Fife et al [Indiana Univ School of Medicine, Indianapolis] report.

"It was something that we sort of expected to find based on the incidence of other sexually transmitted infections in this population," Fife told Reuters Health in an interview.

A national survey of the US population conducted between 1988 and 1994 found that more than one in five people over 12 had blood tests that showed evidence for infection with herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV 2), the virus typically responsible for genital herpes, Fife and his team note in their report in the July issue of Sexually Transmitted Diseases. This represents a 30 percent increase from 1976-1980.

There is also evidence that genital infections with HSV 1, which normally causes cold sores around the mouth, are on the rise, they add.

To examine the incidence and prevalence of both strains of the virus among adolescent women, Fife and his team analyzed data from a study in which a group of young women were followed closely to determine if they contracted any sexually transmitted infections. Their analysis included results of blood and genital specimen tests obtained every three months from100 women aged 14 to 18.

At the study's outset, they found, 59.6 percent of the women tested positive for HSV 1, while 13.5 percent carried HSV 2. During the follow-up period, from 1999 to 2004, four of the study participants contracted new HSV 1 infections, while seven acquired HSV 2.

Among the women who developed new HSV 2 infections, none had symptoms of genital herpes, but three were shedding the virus in their vaginal area.

It is likely that at least some of the new HSV 1 infections that occurred among women in the study were genital, given that genital HSV 1 infections are quite common in young adults, the researchers note.

They conclude, "HSV infections are common in adolescent women." They point out that efforts to reduce these infections "need to target children before adolescence." [Reuters Health; Yahoo! News, July 31, 2006, Anne Harding; 1August06]