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CDHB Supports Herpes Awareness Campaign

Corporate MEDIA RELEASE TO: News Room FROM: Michele Hider, Communications Manager DATE: 3 June, 2008

CDHB Supports Herpes Awareness Campaign

Herpes is a common sexually transmitted infection that can be easily managed and treated.

That’s the message from Dr Edward Coughlan, Clinical Director of Canterbury District Health Board’s Sexual Health Centre, who will speak at a public seminar, entitled Herpes: Dispelling the Myths, tomorrow (Wednesday) 4 June.

The CDHB is supporting a new campaign by the New Zealand Herpes Foundation, which aims to dispel some of the myths associated with the infection.

Dr Coughlan said up to 30% of all New Zealanders who have been sexually active have the virus that causes genital herpes. Of these, 80% do not know they have it because they have no symptoms or very mild symptoms that often go unnoticed. People who have symptoms commonly have outbreaks of blisters or sores similar to cold sores on or around their genitals.

“Herpes is very common and anyone who has ever had sex can get it. Often the psychological trauma of being diagnosed is worse than the physical effects, which is why it is important to highlight that it’s just like getting a cold sore, but in the genital area. It’s not about any particular type of sexual behaviour; it’s about leading a normal, sexually active life,” Dr Coughlan said.

Herpes can be caused by both herpes simplex type 1 and 2 (HSV1 or HSV2). HSV1 causes cold sores on the mouth and up to 80% of people have this virus. Anyone with the HSV1 virus can unwittingly spread the virus through oral sex, with about a third of all people who are diagnosed with genital herpes being infected in this way.

Ends

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