Local News

National Study Shows Number of STDs on the Rise

Posted October 15, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— A frightening new study supports what health care professionals in the Triangle have been saying for a while. Genital herpes is out of control. The study shows the sexually transmitted disease is spreading like wildfire.

The report comes from the highly respected New England Journal of Medicine. It paints a grim picture of a rapidly growing disease that some experts say is now in epidemic proportions.

The Sexually Transmitted Disease hotline in the Triangle answers more than 200,000 calls a year from all over the country, a majority of them about genital herpes. So it was no surprise that the New England Journal of Medicine now says one in five Americans 12 years of age or older have the virus.

"I think it validates information that we've known for a long time," said Sarah Chapman, STD Hotline supervisor.

The hotline's director hopes the new findings will create more widespread awareness of the problem.

Better awareness of preventative measures like wearing a condom is something North Carolinians could improve upon. Rates of syphilis and gonorrhea in N.C. are among the nation's highest.

While the most common way to get herpes is through contact with the lesions of an infected person, it also can be transmitted through skin that isn't showing any current signs of the virus.

If you have questions or need advice, you can call the STD Hotline at 1-800-227-8922. Or call the Herpes Hotline at 919-361-8488.

The New England Journal of Medicine estimates one in five people 12 and older has genital herpes. Wake County doctors are seeing it first-hand. They said they treat between 40 and 50 new cases every month.

Reporter: Len Besthoff