40% of African-American adults have the virus that causes genital herpes.

While skimming through the pages of the June issue of Essence magazine, I stumbled upon a statistic that took me aback. According to the CDC, 40% of African-American adults have the virus that causes genital herpes. If you are not exactly familiar with genital herpes, let a sista shed some knowledge on you. Genital herpes is a STD (sexually transmitted disease) also referred to as a STI (sexually transmitted infection) that according to MedicineNet.Com, is transmitted through intimate contact with the mucous-covered linings of the mouth, the vagina, or the genital skin. Once infected with genital herpes, an outbreak usually begins within two weeks of the initial infection and manifests as an itching or tingling sensation followed by redness of the skin. Finally, a blister forms. People with genital herpes have recurrent outbreaks. here is no cure for genital herpes. Only treatment is available for the outbreaks that occur. Once you get genital herpes, you have it for life.

According to the CDC, having genital herpes can double the risk of contracting HIV.

As I continued to migrate through this article that had now captivated my attention, I read about this self-proclaimed attractive and successful business man who became infected with genital herpes. After being infected, this man went on to have sex with 20 women, only telling 2 of them that he had genital herpes. Despite having genital herpes, this man used condoms only half the time. Check out what he had to say in his own words.

“Sometimes my girlfriend would want sex when I was having an outbreak. I couldn’t arouse any suspicion by saying no, so I would have sex with my boxers on to conceal where the blisters were located. If she asked why, I’d say, “Oh, it’s just a fantasy I have.”

This article indeed took me down memory lane. You see, I was 19-years-old the first time I had sex. And the first, the second, and the third time and etc…. it was unprotected sex. I thought I was being smart because I knew I was going to have sex and I got on birth control pills two months prior to my first sexually encounter. My only concern at that time was that I didn’t want to get pregnant. The fact that I didn’t practice safe sex was beyond foolish and proved that I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was. I later discovered that the person I was having sex with wasn’t just having sex with me, but he had multiple sex partners.

I was lucky and I never became infected with anything. But my advice to you today is, be smart, and practice safe sex. You may not be so lucky…

To learn more about genital herpes, visit www.medicinenet.com. To see how this Essence story ends, check out the June issue of Essence magazine, page 82.


  1. Oh lord, not this again? I definitely don’t come to Brown Sista to be hit with this garbage. Why do Blacks just accept these type of statistics as facts? What 40% of African Americans did they survey… PROSTITUTES? Everyday we are bombarded with these bogus stats of how we all [especially Black women] are infected with every disease on the planet at a much higher rate than anyone else and we just jump on those stats and run with them with no questions asked. Blacks aren’t engaging in sexual behavior any different than anyone else and yet we supposedly have the highest rate of everything. I submit that these stats are bogus and used to convey the message to the world that we are sexual deviants. This post is garbage and stinks. :thumbsdown:

  2. I don’t like hearing the statistics either but I want to know what’s going on so I can protect my body. This isn’t about how the world may perceive us as sexual deviants, but about why black people aren’t using protection like we should and how people in our community are not informed. Ignoring this information or staying silent is one of the reasons why AIDS is destroying, yes DESTROYING, our communities. I lost a relative to AIDS and I know someone with herpes. They contracted these diseases because of risky behavior. Sorry, but this sh*t is real.

    Sistas need stop letting these crazy a** men talk them out of using condoms. Ain’t no man’s p*nis worth risking my health or my life. And we need to tell the same info to our daughters. Brown sista thanks for posting this. :thumbsup:

    The truth hurts but it’ll set you free and can SAVE YOUR LIFE.

  3. Why can’t we use p*nis or v*gina in the comments section? Those aren’t bad words. Just asking.

  4. I agree with Dana 100%. I sure as hell dont come to this site too read shit like this and I hope this not going to be a everyday thing.

  5. Dana, by all means, you have the right to seek out information that is of importance or beneficial to you. I do the same thing when I check out other various sites. But as you stated, this post clearly doesn’t meet those two specifications for you. So in essence, this post is not for you. The fact that 40% of African-American adults have genital herpes and the fact that HIV infections are one the rise in certain cities, makes it clear to me that someone, even if it’s just one person, can benefit or find value with this given information. Don’t worry, I will only be posting on Mondays. So you will only get garbage like this once a week.

  6. I am always suspect of these statistics. I know so many people who work in the medical field and they always say they inflate the numbers for us. Why they do that is beyond me. Yes you should always use protection and take care of yourself, but, I just don’t always believe these statistics. I think that this type of information is good to put on a blog for brown sista. Because some people don’t read magazines and they need to have this information. Always protect yourself.

  7. :stop:

    wow you DONT wanna hear info that may save the course of your life???

    wether accurate or not….its a message of being aware…whats wrong with you guys?

    thank you brown sister….. :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

  8. @Dana i agree with you 100 percent but we need to know this period. It seem like they alway coming out with stats about us like come on. But yes we need to protect are self these days.

    I know in my community we have community p@nis and Community Vagaga. It a shame that people be knowing about this and still be sleeping with these people without protection. People is play russian rulet with there life.

  9. Education is the key to good health. :thumbsup:

  10. omg that man is sick!! that is so ridiculous, i can’t believe he put all those women in danger like that! if you ask me that is just as sick as someone with hiv walking around sleeping with everyone and not telling them!! stephanie you got lucky, because i got infected (not with herpes, it was curable) the first time i ever had sex (i was 18), and we used a condom!!! if my mom hadn’t scheduled my first pap smear around the time i had lost my virginity i would probably not have even known. This stuff is real, why aren’t people waking up!

  11. I know a guy who told me last year that when he was in college in the early 80’s, he blew off the statistics about 1 in 4 black men being incarcerated or dead by a certain age. At the age of 42, all of his male cousins that he grew up with were dead or in prison.

    I am in healthcare and I know how the CDC allow spin to be put on the real statistics. For example, they say that HIV among black women is growing at a faster rate than other gender/ethnic groups in the USA. This is true. What they don’t say is that over 90% of these women engage in anal sex. Why? Because they don’t want to offend the gay community or blame a certain sex act as the cause. If women know the truth behind the statistic, they can make better decisions about what they allow their husbands and boyfriends to them and save their lives.

    As far as the herpes statistic, it sounds very exagerated to me. I would have to do research on it myself and encourage others to do the same. In the process we all will learn things we didn’t know and be better for it. Don’t dismiss it or it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Nevertheless, it is good to know what the “they” are saying. I am seeing a trend to lie and discredit our people of late. HBCUs (black colleges) ability or inability to educate our people seems to be the victim of some questionable statistics the last couple of months.

  12. First of all,Thank you for Letting us know,Second I CANNOT BELIEVE that GROWN women will rather talk about who’s ass is bigger in the industry, who can coochie shake better, BUT REFUSE to face the reality of what is going on in our community, are you effin serious? Oh god, It’s because people are in denial about all these issues that the number of h.i.v positive African American is GROWING,Diseases are NOT written on people’s face, and articles like this Remind us to be very damn careful,STOP FUCK– WITH ME how many chicks you SEE in club meetign a dude and leaving with him the same night? I Live In Cali so hell yeah white women are the nastiest and it’s def covered up and not spoken on, but guess what? i’m not white so i don’t give a fuck what they do, I care about my own and it’s bout time some of yall start caring too

  13. Dana and Bee I agree with you because I am a graduate student working towards my Ph.D. in Human Services and one of the main areas we focus on is researcher and sponsor bias. In my opinion as well, it always seems that Blacks and Hispanics have the most STD’s, the highest incarceration rate, but we boast the lowest in pay, the lowest in class levels, and the lowest in education. Yet, when there is something positive to report on a group of people, we are the lowest. But anything negative, we have the highest rate. Someone is lying and it is sad because as you mentioned we just accept these things as truth. I am not knocking the posting of the information because BrownSista thought it was important to mention it, but blacks have almost the lowest population in America, yet we have the highest rate of almost every disease that can be caught and anything that shows a negative side. Someone is lying and it is not right.

  14. Geessh! You guys are hard. Whether it is truth or not the poster was prolly just using the info to set the tone of using protectection during sexual encounters. No one said this info was set in stone & neither is half the other stats that they present on 1000s of other things that are supposedly “surveyed”. I agree that things, same things that are happening in OTHER cultures, are always being maginfied when it comes to the Black community. I call it another Hi tech form of racism. Instead of coming @ the poster, maybe we should take a look @ this NATIONAL BLACK magazine, who many Blacks look up to & listen to, who PRINTED the info in which the poster got it from & ask them who & where did they get their facts from. And why they keep printed stuff like this that constantly brings down the image of the Black woman. B/c obviously they are falling for the hype.

    As for herpes, just tidbit of info one doesn’t have to get it JUST from sex. It has been known that infants have gotten the diease. If someone is infected & has a break out on their lips & kisses u on the cheek or some area, the person is @ risk. When I heard this info back in my Human Sexuality class back in college I flipped b/c I always thought that Herpes could ONLY be contracted by sex. Change my world, to this day I am leary of having ppl kiss me on the face.

  15. 40% ?? Where did they get that from?? Did they test every single African American?? See this is precisely why I don’t believe surveys, they’re not based on anything but a “sample” of a group, not the whole group. Just another propaganda to generate FEAR and TARNISH US.

  16. According to the CDC, 40% of African-American adults have the virus that causes genital herpes.

    These stats are HIGH. I’m going to cosign with Dana. As a black woman, I’m tired of being told that I have HIV, genital herpes, etc. Why are my chances of being infected any higher than anybody elses? Protect yourself ladies, but these stats are a little suspect (rolls eyes)…

  17. I don’t believe it. No doubt everyone needs to be careful and there are people carrying the disease around. But 40%? I want to read this study. According to statistics, everyone in the world better button up and run when they see a black person coming, because we’re the one carrying the disease torch all the time.

    I’m not blinding myself to STD situation in America, but there comes a point when I have to wonder how many of these “Statistics” are comprised of mostly BS.

  18. white people stay having cold sores and blisters on their mouth and face. this statistic is being used to stereotype black people and we stay prmoting this BULLSH*T :noway:

    focus on people having the disease/virus and not just black people or black women. Essence is plain stupid and racist!

  19. people who are saying that they don’t want to know this info are probably in denial and have suspected it in themselves but are too coward to get tested or tell their partners. WHY would you not want to know about these stats and how some men try and play you? The site is called Brown Sista aka meaning info regarding SISTAHS is going to be posted. Everything is not always about celebrities, geez. Obviously these are not grown women.

  20. I’m with Dana.

    I’m sick of all these so-called studies that point out or try to make the point of how f’ed up we Black people are. How many White people or Latinos or Asians have this too? Why isn’t that ever mentioned.

    Why do we keep believing this crap and then spreading it around? When will we learn that some people make a career out of doing studies on us because no one ever questions these studies or tries to replicate them? Who was the test group? What was their economic level? How old where they? What part of the country did they live?

  21. i agree with Dana 100% and i am glad her comment was first. These are scare facts, if people have not gotten the mess yet about the dangers that are out there then they have been living in a bubble for many years!. I am tired of these so called “stats” as well. If women are still letting the men talk them out of condoms, they give consent for what they get! well, …maybe i should not be that harsh but its 2009 and we are still on this same bull…

  22. I agree with what Dana said but I think that anyways we have to protect ourselves against stds. That kind of statistics remind me that I have to respect my body and my mind because regardless of the colored statistics, stds exist.

  23. Drea, they are trying to make this a “black issue”. We cannot verify surveys, they represent a sample of a group not the whole groups. Sometimes they just throw numbers to influence the masses’ perception of reality (groups, genders, countries, etc). That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t protect ourselves, on the contrary, everybody should!! Each individual is responsible for their health. But there are more whites doing Girls Gone Wild, Spring Break and porn type of stuff with unprotected sex than any other communities, yet “WE” are the poster child for STDs in America? Come on people. I don’t believe the press and television. Even statistics based supposedly on concrete numbers, we can’t know for sure that it’s true. Case in point, 49% of marriages fail according to the media, is that true? Can we know for sure that it is true? Hollywood promotes celebrity divorces like crazy, they never give an equal amount of attention to successful ones, movies are made promoting failed marriages and war of sexes. What kind of perception do you think most people will have of marriage? Like I always say, just because we saw them go to the moon on TV, doesn’t mean it was real.

  24. people forget that herpes is a virus that is not only transmitted through sexual contact. all you have to do is come into contact with the pus which is contagious. someone can touch their sore and touch you or have a sore on their face and mouth and kiss you. this is one of the reasons the disease is so contagious.

    there is a commercial out that states one in four adults ( no color mentioned here) have the virus and don’t even know they’re spreading it. sometimes people mistaken it for a pimple or boil. Essence is promoting racial bullsh*t and they need to stop! They already have us thinking most black women have HIV!

  25. I agree with Drea and capeflower. Why would anyone want to be in ignorance about these vital statistics?? Negative or not the figures are real and affect what’s going on in our community and we should be concerned. We have to continue to educate ourselves and sites like brown sista are an excellent source to provide pertinent information that affects us. It’s too staggering a stastic to be ignored. Not everything has to be about celebrties and the light and fluffy matters in life.

  26. Blacks are foolish and believe whatever is told about them that is negative. The man told you more black men were in prison than college and you believed it. He told you after all these years in this country you only make up 13% of the population and you believed it. He told you Hispanics outnumber you and you believed it. He told you AIDS came from an African monkey, even though it was first discovered in a gay white man and you believed it. He told you 50% of all Black teenage girls have a venereal disease and you believed it. He told you genetics make Blacks more prone to catching AIDS and you believed it. But did he tell you that since we first got off the boat in this country we Blacks have been used as Guinea pigs? Did he tell you of the thousands of people who everyday in this country are diagnosed with AIDS and get a second opinion are found not to have the disease after all? Of course he didn’t tell you that. He tells you that you are diseased and in need of this medication that may or may not work.

    No one here is trying to run from the so called facts and stay in la la land. We just aren’t interested in false facts created to stereotype us and create an image of us that is false.

    BTW, these facts have constantly been refuted by medical doctors and if many of you read you would know that. AIDS in particular has become a business in and of itself. AIDS is now a political disease and billions of dollars are raised a year to supposedly fight it.

    Protect yourself, but know the real facts. We are not diseased.

  27. Thank you for posting something informative.There alot of people who need to read this!

  28. Dana, that’s exactly how I feel. And this is nothing against Brownsista, we know you guys are all about helping us, but I personally don’t live by what the media says. Doesn’t mean I don’t take responsibility for my life and health, doesn’t mean I don’t have common sense, I just don’t believe the hype.

  29. @ Drea :iagree: it’s not always about celebrities.

    This is A Word for My Sistas’ first post. Thank you for sharing this information. Thank you for caring enough about your sistas to let us know that we need to be cautious when having sex. Stephanie keep allowing her to post this kind of info.

  30. This is just a shame…ABSTINENCE PEOPLE!!!! Now a days you cant even trust your boyfriend?! Thats why a pap is needed once a year. Men out here are reckless and will do anything for a piece of booty! SMH

  31. Excellent excellent post!

    Provocative and definitely a conversation starter.
    Whether we agree with the statistics or not, talking about makes us more aware of the need to stay safe and seek better representation as black people.

    Ill be looking forward to mondays

  32. A heated arguement and certain black female entertainers names (whom I dare not mention) did not even come up in the comment section. :bowdown: There is hope afterall.
    Thanks “A word for my sisters”

  33. I too have always wondered how accurate & precise statistics are in general. What if it’s an old statistic & it hasn’t been updated?! From what I learned about statistical reasoning from my school txtbook the best basis of generalizing using a statistic is not from the exceptional & memorable cases one finds at the extremes but from a representative sample of cases. No research involves a representative sample of the whole human population so it’s important to keep in mind what population that study or statistic has sampled. Less-variable observations are more reliable than those that are more variable. If your taking the avergae of a series of data, just a few extreme numbers can exaggerate the mean & make it tell a different story. More cases are better than fewer. If only a few cases are used to gather data to form a statistic then it is completely unreliable and distortive.

    That’s not to say that I’m discrediting this statistic from the cdc. Statistics can be deceitful but they can also reveal what we fail to see too. Whether it’s precise or not it’s real and people should know these statistics so they don’t become apart of them. There are too many crazy things running rampant out there & it’s important for people to be informed & protect themselves.

  34. Kudos to awordtomysistas. Thanks sista for that informative info :hifive:

  35. If you know what’s good for you, and you’re out dating, not to mention, you’re not the type of person to get you and your partner tested; you better treat every person you get with sexually like 100% of african-americans have herpes and AIDS…what if the stats are right? My people always worrying about the wrong thing… *rolls eyes*

  36. Kudos to Awordtomysistas for posting this and getting the word out….

    Kudos to Essence for trying to educate folk about Herpes….

    Some of the reasons Herpes is being spread soo fast are exhibited in the comments on this blog….LACK OF KNOWLEDGE…and concern about the wrong thing…

    Yes maybe the statistics are over inflated… it doesn’t change the fact that everyday more and more of US are being diagnosed with Herpes

    Some of you are stressing comdon use, bet you didnt know that u can wear a condom and still catch Herpes…. yes it helps but it isnt 100% the only way to be sure is to be tested.

    someone mentioned getting tested. did u know that when u go in for STD testing… unless u specifically ask for Herpes… it may not be included. so just because you got your testing… are you SURE you were tested for everything. Did you ask for your results or just take the Docs word for it that everything was covered?????

    Does having Herpes make it easier to catch HIV… yes… because the sores provide open areas on the body for HIV to infect….

    BTW there is no PUS involved….


  37. EVERYONE JUST BE WISE AND PROTECTED! I’m abstinent…..lol…so I’m chilling now. :thumbsup:

  38. PUS is involved this is what is inside of the sore that is actually contagious.

  39. Sarabi, why is it so hard to believe that even though blacks, in the aggregate, are the minority in terms of numbers that we can’t have a higher incidence of certain diseases, incarceration, etc? Rate refers to the percentage within a certain group of people; so it is entirely possible that even though a group may be smaller in number within this country that that group experiences a greater number (within that group) of certain conditions, diseases, etc when compared to other groups. In fact, by blacks not being in great number in this country means that each one of our actions have a higher impact on our rates (whatever that may be) than whites. This is just a function of statistics.

    It is really sad that a lot of people chose to ignore these thought provoking statistics instead of CHANGING their behavior to positively impact them and their own lives.

    Further, in response to the poster who mentioned that blacks are typically labeled as statistically prone to negative behaviors/conditions, while I agree with you I don’t think that negates the reality or accuracy of the statistics themselves. Statistically white women are more susceptible to develop brittle bones in their later years. Also, statistically, there is a MUCH greater chance that a white baby will develop Downs Syndrome than a black baby. What do white people do when they hear these statistics? They develop Boniva, preach the importance of taking calcium supplements and get genetic testing done during the early stages of pregnancy to identify possible issues with the fetus. It is a travesty that instead of taking such a proactive position, a lot of our people instead chose to deny and blame the white man for publishing phony stats. I guess some people will never learn. Sad!

  40. If the pus is what is contagious .. how do u explain people transmitting the disease without any signs of an outbreak?

    Yet another example of how many are mis-informed or under-informed about Herpes. This is why this article is soo important.

  41. @Chante. You say people are trying to make this a “black issue”. Well it was in a black magazine and this is a black blog so of course it’s geared toward black folks. DUH! and who cares what goes on in These Girls Gone Wild videos and anything else white folks do. And that’s part of the problem, worrying about white folks instead of focusing on our own issues.

    We need to focus on us and even if the numbers are wrong (which they are not) they should help to scare some people into being more responsible about their sexual health so they can say to themselves “well i know i’m not in that number” AND it can make them question their partners more and in-depth. The numbers should be a shock so that more people WILL change what they are doing.

    And if the numbers are wrong and any black people see themselves as “poster children” as you said then they can step up and change the image by promoting safe sex and promoting getting tested in their neighborhoods. And by teaching their kids something other than the “stanky leg” and the “halle berry” (nothing against her, she’s a very talented, beautiful woman)

  42. Also the post said “40% of African-American adults have the virus that causes genital herpes”. HAVE the virus. Many of these cells lay dormant and never appear as sores, etc. So to say that we are all diseased is inaccurate and to say that we are the poster children for STD’s is also inaccurate. I watch many “white-lead” tv shows and there are plenty young white people with STD’s portrayed. Even on talk show’s there are many more white people being shown as promiscuous than blacks.

  43. Did any of you read the article in Essence? Probably not because if you did you would realize the importance of this post. Numbers could be false by a margin, but who cares right. We just want all the diseases and sicknesses. Let’s get herpes together and HIV. Lets die. If she would have posted that you would have been upset about that. I have a cousin who was not a prostitute, who met a man and dated him for one year before engaging in intercourse. He was angry because he had AIDS and he infected every woman he could. My cousin trusted him and now she is deceased. So think before you respond. Forget the numbers and hear the message….BE SAFE!!!

  44. softlegs,

    you’re the one that is misinformed. I will repeat it for you again the PUS is highly contagious!

    it can be transmitted through skin contact because our skin consists of open pores and anything that touches our skin is has the ability to penetrate our blood stream. a person is most contagious when the sores are present and eventually breaks to release the PUS . The PUS then foms a crust.

    you don’t know everything, read up on it before you respond to my post again!

  45. Sanchez, for all your ranting… not once did you answer my previous question….

    If the pus is what is contagious .. how do u explain people transmitting the disease without any signs of an outbreak?

    open pores.. huh…. how bout lil breaks in the skin…. this is how Herpes is spread….. Just because someone with Herpes touches you does not mean you are AUTOMATICALLY going to get it “through your open pores”

    No where on the CDC page for herpes does it say pus yet it does say Herpes can be transmitted without any sore or in your words PUS being visible……


    HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be found in and released from the sores that the viruses cause, but they also are released between outbreaks from skin that does not appear to have a sore. Generally, a person can only get HSV-2 infection during sexual contact with someone who has a genital HSV-2 infection. Transmission can occur from an infected partner who does not have a visible sore and may not know that he or she is infected.


    One of the most difficult things to learn about herpes is that there is a chance that the virus can be transmitted when there are no apparent lesions. Women can have virus on their cervix with no sores on the outside of their body. Men can have the virus present inside of the urethra with no external sores. The virus can be given off from the genital skin of both men and women with no sores through microscopic breaks in the skin. This is called asymptomatic shedding; giving off the virus from the body when there are no visible symptoms.


    Once infected with any type of Herpesvirus, the carrier remains capable of transmitting virus for the rest of their life even when showing no symptoms due to a process called viral shedding. Shedding means that the virus is active on the skin, and risk of transmission is high. HSV sheds at prodrome, during outbreaks, during healing periods after outbreaks, but also at random times where there may be no noticeable symptoms at all. This is called “subclinical shedding” or “asymptomatic shedding.”

    oh and bout herpes being in the bloodstream WRONG YET AGAIN……The only thing dealing with Herpes in the bloodstream is the antibodies… that the body uses to fight the disease….. not the herpes virus itself


    However, before this happens, the virus gains entry to the nerve cell end-plates (structures that help us to feel things like pain and temperature), present at the skin surface. The end-plates connect to the more deeply located nerve cell body through an elongated nerve fibre or axon. This cell in turn is connected to “serially coupled” layers of internal nerve cells, which eventually lead to a ganglion, which is a collection of nerve cell bodies just like a node in an electricity grid. Through such intricate connections the nerve cells eventually lead into and communicate with the central nervous system or the brain. The axons are protected by “myelin blankets”, just like the insulating material around electrical wires, but the endings are bare, as are the nodes where one nerve cell extension connects with the next (synapse). It is thought that the virus sheds its envelope as soon as it has entered the nerve and uses the axon as a conduit, hiding from immune system attack, as if it were inside a “Trojan Horse”.

    HSV has specifically chosen the nerve cell body and ultimately the ganglion (HSV-1 resides in the trigeminal ganglion; HSV-2 resides in the sacral ganglia) as a site where it remains dormant. It is from these locations that the virus may reactivate from its dormant state to the respective innervated (nerve-cell-serviced) body areas. This is why dormant virus from the trigeminal ganglion (oral or facial area) reactivates in the oral or facial region, whereas the dormant virus from the sacral ganglion (lower back/spine area) reactivate to the genital area or the buttock.

    Maybe you should do a lil light reading in your spare time……………….

    This exactly why this article is soo important… there is a lot of misinformation floating around.

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