By Peter J. Smith

NEW YORK, June 10, 2008 ( – More than a quarter of the residents of New York, the city that never sleeps, now live with genital herpes, contracted through freewheeling sexual promiscuity. A new report from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene shows that the restless inhabitants of the city have higher rates of infection from sexually transmitted diseases than the rest of the United States.

Health officials announced Monday that 26% of adult New Yorkers have been infected with Herpes Simplex Virus-2 (the virus responsible for genital herpes), while the national average has declined to 19%.

By ethnicity, more blacks than whites in the city were afflicted with the disease (49% versus 14%). New York women also suffer much higher rates of infection than men (36% versus 19%). However, the rate of infection for men engaging in homosexual acts was nearly double the rate of heterosexual men (32% versus 18%).

Genital herpes infections post a serious concern for city health officials, since the disease greatly helps to spread HIV infection. In fact, rates of HIV infection in the city are increasing within the male homosexual population.

City officials have announced that they will throw more condoms at the health crisis.

“Genital herpes alone will not cause serious problems for most people,” said Dr. Julia Schillinger, Director of Surveillance for the Health Department’s Bureau of STD Prevention and Control and lead author of the study. “But some people will have painful genital sores and the infection fosters the spread of HIV. We advise New Yorkers to protect themselves and others. Using condoms consistently will help you avoid getting or spreading genital herpes.”

Despite the current glut of free condoms in the city of 19.3 million, with over 48 million condoms being distributed to New Yorkers since 2007, the Health Department received more than 65,000 reports of sexually transmitted infection in 2007 alone, and rates of gonorrhea, chlamydia, and infectious syphilis also have risen above the national average.

The city’s findings are published in the June edition of the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases. The study’s data come from the city’s 2004 Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NYC HANES), which used door-to-door interviews and in-person medical exams of a representative sample of New York adults 20 and older to determine the health status of New Yorkers.

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