Issuing a major policy shift, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending that adults up to the age of 64, and all adolescents, be routinely tested for the AIDS virus. The new health policy is designed to make HIV screening as common as blood pressure readings or cholesterol tests.The
number of people newly exposed each year has stubbornly remained at 40,000, which has frustrated health officials. It is not uncommon for people in the U.S. to carry the virus for 10 years or longer and not be aware of it. At present, the CDC estimates that 250,000 Americans are infected with HIV but don’t know it.The
The idea is to identify infections sooner, get patients into treatment quicker, and prevent further transmission of the virus, which is believed to infect 1 million Americans. Doctors hope the effort will help them better control the epidemic in the U.S.
But though HIV/AIDS are the most deadly sexually transmitted diseaseSTDsTDs), they aren’t the most common.
There are at least 25 knoSTDsTDs. Herpes, HPV, gonorrhea, and chlamydia are the most common. Most worrisome, according to the American Social Health Association, 80 percent of aSTDsTDs asymptomless.While
ile there are only 40,000 new cases of HIV each year, there are 650,000 new cases of gonorrhea, a million new cases of genital herpes, 3 million new cases of chlamydia, and more than 6 million new cases of HPV each year.
The staggering truth is that half of all people will have an STD at some point in their lifetime, and it is estimated that over 65 million Americans are living with a viral STD. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 19 million new STD infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24. It’s estimated that one in four teenagers contract a STD, and even more alarming, one in two sexually active people will contract a STD by the age of 25.
HPV, or humpapillomavirusrus, is considered the most common STD. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than 6 million Americans – many of them teens and young adults – get a new infection of HPV each year.
HPV is thought to lie dormant in 75% of the reproductive-age population. Of the 30 known strains of HPV, three cause harmless warts. But the others can lead to cervical cancer, as well as penile and anal cancers. The virus is transmitted through sexual contact and can occur with a single encounter.
Because HPV has been difficult to track and treat for years, the number of cervical cancer incidents has actually risen. However, new liquid pap tests make it easier to expose cervical cancer as well as HPV, which causes about 70% of those cancers. The good news is that, while potentially deadly, the death rate from cervical cancer has dropped nearly 70% since 1969.
And that rate may continue to fall. The FDA recently approved a new vaccinGardasilsil, which protects against HPV. Though the common virus is potentially deadly, a three-dose inoculation given well before girls become sexually active has proven effective. In addition, the vaccine also protects males from HPV as well.
Officials say HPV cases are on the rise, though not necessarily the result of more frequent casual sex. The reason? Better testing makes HPV seem more prevalent. More than ever before, doctors able to detect HPV, treat it, and hopefully prevent cervical cancer in the future.
Another common STD is the herpes simplex virus. But there has been some recent good news on that front. A new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found an encouraging decline in the percentage of people infected with the herpvirus.The
The new study, funded by the CDC, shows a 19 percent drop since 1994 in the percentage of Americans ages 14 to 49 testing positive for herpes type 2, the most common cause of the recurring painful sores of genital herpes. The declines were especially pronounced among young people.
A previous CDC report in 1997 found a 30 percent increase in herpes infection since the late 1970s.
According to experts, the findings represent biological evidence of a decrease in risky sexual behavior among adolescents. But doctors warn that herpes is still an epidemic and the downward trend should not be misconstrued as being under control.
Of note, the report found that 56 percent of men and 60 percent of women tested positive for the oral herpes virus, type 1, which is best known as the culprit behind cold sores, but can spread to the genitals through oral sex. Type 1 may be causing more genital infections in some groups, such as college students.
Herpes is still uncomfortably common. Despite the decline, according to the American Society for Social Health, about 25% of all adults in the US carry the virus for genital herpes (HSV-2). Unfortunately, up to 90% of those who have the HSV2 virus don’t know it. That’s because most people with herpes have mild, infrequent, or even no symptoms. In fact, only 10% to 25% of people who carry HSV-2 report ever having genital sores.
Herpes greatly increases the chances of infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Herpes can be treated with antiviral drugs, which can help prevent flare-ups and reduce the risk of spreading it to others. Condoms can help lower the risk of transmission, although they’re not foolproof. Infected people are contagious even without symptoms.
However, the news wasn’t all good. Unfortunately, rates of infection are still disproportionately high among women and blacks. The study found 42 percent of blacks tested positive for herpes type 2, a decline of only 4 percent since 1994.
Genital herpes is caused by two viruses known as herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) and by herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). Both viruses are transmitted by sexual contact, and cross-infection of type 1 and 2 viruses can occur during oral-genital sex.
There are eight different herpes viruses. One of thevaricellalzosterter, is the virus responsible for chicken pox and shingles. Another herpes virus, Epstein-Barr, is the most common cause of mononucleosis.
In the past, people could only be properly diagnosed by having a culture done from an active outbreak. As a result, many people went undiagnosed or were misdiagnosed. However, new blood tests have been developed since 1999 that are extremely reliable, and will be able to determine with 97-100% accuracy whether or not someone has the Herpes Simplex 2 virus. The only way to confirm a herpes infection in an asymptomatic person is to look for antibody to virus in a blood test.
Recent studies have shown that 70% of new cases of herpes were the result of sexual contact with a partner who had no signs or symptoms of herpes at the time. It is important to know that herpes can still be transmitted by people who do not have active symptoms. Even people who’ve never had herpes symptoms are potentially contagious a small percentage of the time. This is called “asymptomatic shedding.” A person could have genital herpes for 30 years, without knowing it, before having their first recognized outbreak.
Experts recommend routine STD screenings for all sexually active people, a dedicated use of condoms, limiting the number of sexual partners, and committing to monogamous relationships, as the best means of limiting exposure STDsTDs.