48% of Black Women Have Herpes

Damn. Black Women, we have been dealt another blow.

I’m still reeling from the HIV/AIDS stats that came out last year, so this is terrible to hear.  By-the-way, bid you know today, March 10th is Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2010?   HIV has now become the leading cause of death among Black women ages 25 to 34.  Add to that the news that CDC is reporting that 48% of Black Women in America have herpes, and you have a serious problem that no one is talking about.  (Overall, the CDC estimates that one in six Americans is infected with the herpes virus.)

Black folks, we typically don’t discuss our sexual business in public, but I think we need to start being more open and honest about our sex lives.  Education and Accountability are in order.

Where is the black church on this?  Where is the outrage from our “leaders” and calls for education and personal responsiblity?  Black women are the backbone of our communities and they are facing a major challenge.  What are your thoughts on this?

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Filed under african american, black, black women, community, health, news, opinion, relationships, sex, women

21 Responses to 48% of Black Women Have Herpes

  1. eve

    Wow. What’s up with the promiscuity & lack of responsibility? Herpes is soooo unnecessary. Why are we acting so primal?

  2. I just don’t understand why, in this day and age, our numbers are so high? What is so difficult for people to understand? If you’re sexually active, protect yourself! Request proof of your partners sexual status! Ask questions! Getting some isn’t worth getting a disease or worse. Wake up people!

  3. CoLaBeed

    Hold on. I read the same statistics on theroot.com and another reader found out that the number is not true (she researched this on the CDC website). I don’t understand why you automatically take this as fact and begin by saying, “Damn. Black Women, we have been dealt another blow”. This is the self-destructive attitude that is ruining black people more than any disease can do. As soon as someone says most black men are in prison, we believe. As soon as someone says black people don’t get married anymore, we believe. As soon as someone says black people have more diseases than everyone else, we believe. What does the Black church have to do with this? Did they publish these incorrect stats? If you really want to curb the spread of disease, then write an article with some specific stats and solutions, preferably published by a Black institution. I don’t understand why people like you, who are trusted to comment on such things, are always so eager to sop up the negativity.

    • CoLaBeed: You should look for yourself, I did. The CDC’s website does say “The most affected group was black women, with a prevalence rate of 48 percent.” I took a look at the comments on the Root as well. The point is 20%, 30%…regardless of the %, it’s too high. This info is according to a national health survey…which means we all acknowledge that it could be higher or lower. It’s herpes…so a good number of people don’t even know they are carriers.

      CDC Study Finds U.S. Herpes Rates Remain High http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/hsv2pressrelease.html
      1 in 6 Americans Infected; Highest Prevalence among Women and African-Americans

      “The study finds that women and blacks were most likely to be infected. HSV-2 prevalence was nearly twice as high among women (20.9 percent) than men (11.5 percent), and was more than three times higher among blacks (39.2 percent) than whites (12.3 percent). The most affected group was black women, with a prevalence rate of 48 percent. ”

      Just because something is negative doesn’t make it untrue. I think Black folk can get real selective about what we feel is true. If it’s good news, it’s automatically true? We may not want to hear about these things, but we do need to face them. I need my black women to be moved to action when we hear about herpes, AIDs rates, fatherlessness, obesity, and other issues the are REAL in our communities. Instead of trying to find fault in each other and disprove what we feel is negative, let’s move in a positive direction. There are a lot of organizations out there who are working on these issues and a lot of people who are trying to bring them to light.

  4. CoLaBeed

    Sistah, I’m not trying to find fault, but I demand that we constantly question statistics and any other information that suggests that Blacks are most at risk for anything, which appears to be all of them. Who was the study group? What was the criteria used to gather this data? The black women they studied could have been prostitutes for all I know. It is extremely easy to skew numbers and the effect it has is debilitating. It makes us all seem down-trodden and sick. If Black women are at such a high risk, then Black men (more than likely our sex partners) must be just as high. Not good. Don’t believe for a second that “scientific” data is devoid of racism-it isn’t. I just expect that when Blacks write about these things we take extra care to put solutions first, rather than just repeating doom from anonymous sources.

    • CoLaBeed, Your thoughts are welcome. We don’t have to agree. Institutional racism is a given. However, I wouldn’t just throw away every thing the CDC has reported or call them an anonymous source. The point for me is that we need to start Doing something. Action has always been the salvation of the black community. Perhaps the answer is that we teach out best and brightest how to write grants and how to get funding so that we can do our own research. Perhaps we need to reach out to black researchers in medicine and physicians and see what they are seeing in their own practices. We need confirmation from the soldiers on the ground.

      Doctors: If you are a physician and you treat people with veneral diseases, tell us…have you seen a rise in black cases in the last 5 or 15 years. I know you have to be confidential and all but, let a sister know.

  5. Susan Booker

    I think the title of this blog is a bad idea. The report from the CDC does not say that 48% of ALL Black Women have Herpes, it’s saying that of the number of people looked at 48% were of African American decent – there’s a huge difference in the two statements.

  6. Scott

    Prevalence rate is the number of cases in a specific population….

    if its 48% then that is what it is…..

    Let’s cut the garbage trying to question stats…..we need to question behavior…..

    What this does tell us is that a large population of black women are sleeping with a relatively small population of black men…..this is concubine behavior that needs to be stopped. Wake up black women and stop lying to yourself, the stakes are too high.

  7. Susan Booker

    To Scott:You question the stats before you question the behaviour to make sure you have something to investigate????
    Did you know that the report is based on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey
    which only goes out to a nationally representated sample of only 5000 people. This means that 5000 is supposed to represent the whole population of America estimated roughly at 304,059,724 people out of that its estimated that 12.8% are black. To know how many black females to survey they would have to work out first what percentage of black women fall under the black category. If at a rough guess 7% were black females then they would have looked at only 350 black women out of the millions and millions living in America, it’s a ridiculously small sample to be able to form any firm conclusions and in my opinion, because they have come out with such a large percentage, this is a serious breach of patient confidentiality and an infringement on people’s privacy, I hope they get sued.

  8. Um…so Negroes don’t believe in science and scientific processes now? Oh, ok then. Let’s just say the world is flat.

  9. Susan Booker

    The reason why people believed the world was flat was because nobody questioned it, when someone decided to question it they found otherwise. Likewise when someone said to me 48% of Black women have herpes I questioned it and found otherwise, that’s what science is all about, questioning beliefs and looking for the truth. I’d say Negro’s were very scientific.

    • Susan: Point taken. Good point. However, we can’t throw the baby out with the bath water. If we are scientific, then show me your research. Send me the links that disprove the survey. Tell me about researchers who have different facts. I’ll be happy to write about that.

      The main point is that 48% of the black women surveyed said they were suffering. If in actually it the number is 20% or 30%…truly it’s TOO high and it’s preventable. How about we agree to disagree on this, but agree that we can just ignore the possibility that thousands of women are suffering. Information like this gives people pause and think twice about their sexual habits and who they sleep with. That’s the point.

  10. Aj

    How was I selected?
    Participants are selected through a complex statistical process using the most current Census information. In simple terms, NHANES divides the United States into communities. The communities are divided into neighborhoods. The neighborhoods are selected at random. From each neighborhood, housing units are selected at random. Selected households are approached by our interviewers who ask residents a few short questions to determine if their household is eligible for the study. (You may have received our introductory letter, sent to “resident” at your home address.)

    You have a unique health profile; if you are selected to be a participant, no other person can be substituted for you. You were selected based on your age, gender, and racial/ethnic background. No one can take your place in this survey.

    “Again, anything you say during this interview is confidential. At the end of your interview, an appointment will be made at our Mobile Examination Center.”

    so basically, they interviewed them, AND tested them after the interview. this is how the information was gathered. even if the actual number was 38% and for whatever reason they decided to throw another 10% on for good measure, 38% is still TOO high.

  11. LaShell

    I initially believed these statistics thinking they came from a reliable source but after reading other articles about the cdc issuing misleading stats I find this hard to believe.

    The article posted on the cdc website also makes little to no sense to me. Why say 80% of ppl with herpes have no idea and that many people show no symptoms but then only encourage ppl with symptoms, gay men, and ppl with many sexual partners to get tested? Also, the article didn’t mention how the study was conducted. Or give any indication of why black women had such high rates.

    I guess black women are supposed to fall into the “many sexual partners” category.

  12. Susan Booker

    Hi Sista,

    Most of the information I’ve gathered is from the CDC’s website:
    Here are the links to the actual press release and how the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey is conducted:


    Wikipedia gives a good explanation about how prevalance rates are calculated (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prevalence)

    I haven’t been able to find anything out about the calculations behind the results so i guess theyre keeping their workings to themselves.

    I dont understand why they’ve chosen to look at Herpes by race. Herpes isn’t a race related illness, we already know how people get it and it’s the same if your black or white, I’m sure socio-ecomonic conditions are more relevant than your racial background. From my own standpoint, I’m interested in issues that specifically affect the Black Race not national epidemics. If you use the CDCs (questionable) figures, if you take away the percentages and look at number of people that are affected there are just under 30 million white people and just over 15 million Black people. I’m sure if the CDC takes race out of the equations, they will be able to find the universal link that links all 45 million people and get on and find ways to cure the infection. Producing silly reports based on race is a waste of time and money.

    • Thanks for looking into that, Susan. The results basically say that herpes is out of hand and black women are affected. Shouldn’t we care? That’s all I’m saying.

      To all: Are we going to debate numbers instead of having a dialogue about Herpes, HPV (some strains cause cervical cancer), and HIV/Aids? The “Safe Sex” era is over. African Americans are dealing with some serious issues, report or no report.

      Black AIDS Institute – BlackAIDS.org
      National Minority Aids Council
      Circle of Care Philly

      Perhaps we should work with organizations like these to actually do something. If you have the know how and a passion, why not try to get a grant and start your own program.

  13. Observer

    If they said this about white gay men, what don you think would happen? This is just to get at people in the so called “black church.” That may be just one reason. It’s also social engineering. And it is being done to the detriment of black American woman as a whole.

  14. Beauty is her name

    I blog because I care. I read these things on STDs and people and I think they are interesting but misinterpreted. Condoms protect from most stds unfortunately herpes is not one of them. :( Condoms serves as some protection but not completely its better than none. Yes you can get herpes from kissing 1 or 2 and 2 can be oral and you will still test positive on the blood test.
    #0 The only way to truly be protected is to abstain from sex or get vaccinated! Herpes is not a life threatening disease so lets get real about it. Most people dont develop cold sores so if your looking for pictures like the ones posted on the internet it probably will not look like that at all. Most people have no symptoms at all. HPV is way more serious.
    #1 The only way to know if you really have herpes or not is to take a blood test most people of any race never take this test. Most people will not pass this test because 1 and 2 are not that different and 80% of the worlds population has either and cant be vaccinated. A disease that is overly stigmatized as the big bad monster. When they dont even test people for it and the blood test is ne and is what the stats are based from.
    #2 Most black men dont go to the doctor! It takes the average women a long time to go of any race (herpes blood testing is mandatory when your pregnant) and the man most of the time only finds out he has a std when his woman is screaming at him that he gave her something esp something like herpes cause some men may not even want to know or be able to tell or ignore it and think its jock itch or something. So they have no clue about black male stats.
    The question blacks should ask is why is the vaccine not being distributed and tested in the black communities early when people are not sexually active. Why did schools like Harvard and UCLA already receive the vaccine.
    Blacks need to get tested but then once your tested then what do you do? Get on Valtrex ASAP if you still choose to be sexually active and donate money to the doctor at Harvard to help support a cure.
    They are developing a gel that is 100% effective and lasts that stops the spread of Herpes completely. It silences the disease in mice.

  15. I’ve read all of your posts and understand the perspectives of each. I do say through all the content posted here, the most important is to actually do something. Our company is embarking on a campaign entitled “DAWI”, which means – Dont Ask, “What If?”….simply put, why question stats and possible controversy behind the data, when that same energy needs to be put into something that will reap a positive benefit. Why not start making a change now?

    We proposed something as radical as mandating STD testing…This does not mean you identity and medical history has too be released to the public, but it does mean that at least everyone will become aware of what the do or don’t have…

    I wish mandating STD testing was not the case; but it has been optional on a volunteer basis for decades and look where we are from a National level….Regardless of race, creed, or color, the U.S. does have extremely high STD rates as a whole, and as a whole, we must Stop the Spread and Share the Knowledge….

    Whether implemented by celebrities, activists, or indie artists, being tested has to become the next “IT” thing to do. Some type of card may have to be issued that certifies an individual has been tested, whether clear or code red. While I do not condone promiscuous behaviors, at least individuals can make more of an informed decision before becoming sexually involved (in addition to utilizing condoms that we know now does not protect an individual from everything).

    And, not trying to bring any humor whatsoever, but if an individual has a disease, then own up to it, and find someone who has the same thing. It’s sad to say, but we have to start taking counter measures somewhere….It must affects a person’s pride to not only find out they have a disease but have to share that information with another person….but IT HAS TO BE DONE!!!

    If we don’t make a difference NOW, what will we tell the children of tomorrow when tomorrow comes….Don’t Ask, WHAT IF? Do Something NOW!!!

  16. Lynn

    I am the 48%. I am a 43 year old african american female who was diagnosed with herpes 13 years ago after being in a 4 month long monogamous relationship with a career military man who was diagnosed with herpes 3 months before meeting me and was too afraid of rejection to tell me. I have suffered in relative silence for the past 13 years and have shared my story with others many times over the years and I have yet to tell my story and not have someone say, “I have it too”, or “that happened to my cousin/sister – would you mind talking to them?” – all of these women were black women. Black folks wake up – we are losing ourselves in our own blindness!

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