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National Study Shows Number of STDs on the Rise

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

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

The Sexually Transmitted Disease hotline in the Triangle answers more than200,000 calls a year from all over the country, a majority of them aboutgenital herpes. So it was no surprise that the New England Journal ofMedicine now says one in five Americans 12 years of age or older have thevirus.

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

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

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

While the most common way to get herpes is through contact with the lesionsof an infected person, it also can be transmitted through skin that isn'tshowing any current signs of the virus.

If you have questions or need advice, you can call the STD Hotline at1-800-227-8922. Or call the Herpes Hotline at 919-361-8488.

The New England Journal of Medicine estimates one in five people 12 andolder 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

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