Type One Herpes on the Rise in Youth

By: Lindsey Ward Email
By: Lindsey Ward Email

February 15, 2008

Talking to your child about sex can be difficult for many parents, especially different types of sex. One local doctor fears some moms and dads are leaving out parts of the important conversation, because now herpes among youth is on the rise. How it's spread my surprise you.

The birds and the bees is often the talk parents don't want to give and children don't want hear, but UVa Doctor Michael Rein says not discussing sex often leads youth to his practice.

In the past several years Rein says he's seen a change in herpes diagnosis and it's caused by an increase of oral sex among young people.

“I think there is a lot of thought that this doesn't constitute true sexual contact, but in fact if you're looking for behaviors that can spread sexually transmitted diseases, oral sex counts,” explained Rein, an Infectious Disease Professor UVa Medical Center.

Herpes comes in two forms type one and type two. Rein says type one is common and almost entirely associated with cold sores and fever blisters, but now more cases of type one are appearing in the genital track.

According to new studies as much as seventy percent of newly acquired herpes cases among college students are type one.

“It is quite possible to get herpes from someone who does not have legions at the time who feels perfectly well and since so many people carry type one in the mouth and don't know it this is a fairly important way that this disease is being spread,” explained Rein.

So important Rein wants every parent to educate their child on the rapidly spreading disease.

“We ought to be telling our children that oral sex is not safe sex,” Rein said, adding that the herpes isn't especially painful and doesn't have many other medical side affects, but he finds it's more mentally upsetting for his patients.

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