(SEATTLE) -- Genital herpes remains one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. Many people think they can only infect their sexual partners if they are showing symptoms, such as genital lesions. A new study finds that among those who test positive but have no clinical symptoms, the infection is still active and can be shedding in the genital tract, therefore posing a potentially increased risk of transmitting the infection to sexual partners.
This was the first study to look over time at people that have HSV-2 infection but don't have a history of genital herpes.
Doctors Anna Wald and Christine Johnston from the University of Washington in Seattle and co-authors studied almost 500 people, some with recurring genital herpes with symptoms and others testing positive for the HSV-2 antibody having no clinical signs of genital herpes. All were asked to swab the genital area for at least 30 days to assess how often the virus was active.
The study appears in a theme issue on infectious diseases and immunological disorders in this week's JAMA, Journal of the American Medical Association.
Researchers also found people who had recurring genital herpes had the active virus on about 20 percent of days.
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