UPDATE: CDC Stands Behind Report That Half Of Black Women Have Herpes

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Despite a recent article on The Root (and aggregated here on NewsOne) suggesting that recent reports of very high levels of herpes infection among Black women were inaccurate, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) stands behind its findings.

According to data gathered by the National Health and Nutrition Survey, 48% of African-American women are infected with genital herpes.

“The CDC stands firmly behind the data,” said Scott Bryan, a spokesman for the organization. The report, which can be accessed here, discussed the current infection rates for women of several different races, including Black women. “We feel that it’s an accurate estimate of the prevalence of genital herpes among multiple populations,” Bryan said.

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To collect the data, women were tested for the presence of HSV-2 antibodies. While in the original article on The Root, an Emory assistant professor specializing in STDs stated that having the antibodies only indicates exposure to the virus and not infection, Bryan explains on behalf of the CDC:

“The fact of the matter is, if you test positive for the HSV-2 antibody, you are infected with the HSV-2 virus. You could be infected and have no symptoms, or have very minor symptoms,” but the infection is present.

Frequently, women who experience only mild symptoms mistake them for less serious problems such as yeast infections. Since so many infected people may be asymptomatic or may not recognize their symptoms as herpes-related and go get tested, close to 80% of people infected with HSV-2 don’t know they have it.

That unawareness can lead to even more high-risk situations, since people unaware they have herpes can unwittingly transmit it to sexual partners even if they have no symptoms.

With such a high level of infection in the Black community and the prevalence of unawareness, it’s absolutely crucial that we protect ourselves from the herpes virus by getting tested and always practicing safe sex. Click here to learn more about the herpes virus and how you can protect yourself.

[Read the original story from The Root.com below.]

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[3:15 p.m. - 4/20/2010]

From The Root:

The March reports of sky-high levels of the genital herpes virus among black women set off a firestorm of disbelief and recrimination. The numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave many black women an all-too-familiar feeling: shock, concern and an overwhelming sense of fatigue in the face of yet another study bringing bad news and fear.

African-American men and women often seem to be under siege when it comes to the ongoing flood of research trumpeting our higher rates of nearly everything, including sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). No doubt, disparities exist, but in this case, it’s reasonable to take a step back from the anger and take a closer look at what the statistics are really telling us.

The new research should not be seen as an indictment of the sexual behavior of African Americans. The numbers–though startling (48 percent of African-American women have been exposed to the virus that causes genital herpes)–are not so much about sex, as they are about circumstances, and, possibly, the way information is gathered for medical research.

Click here to read more.

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