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Int J STD AIDS. 2009 Nov;20(11):785-9. doi: 10.1258/ijsa.2009.009072. Epub 2009 Sep 30.

Genital herpes: an Internet-based risk survey.

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  • 1Sexually Transmitted Infections Research Centre (STIRC) and University of Sydney, Australia.


Genital herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections worldwide. We established a web-based survey to determine risk for genital herpes and encourage people to attend for herpes simplex virus testing. A survey was established on the Australian Herpes Management Forum (AHMF) website, consisting of 16 demographic and sexual health-related questions. Each question carried a numerical risk-weighting based on epidemiological data; the higher the overall score, the greater the risk of herpes. To determine how representative our sample was in relation to age and sex, we compared our survey with Australian Census data. Between October 2006 and August 2007 there were 5572 responses, 4358 (92%) were Australian. Compared with the Australian population, the survey population had a higher proportion of individuals aged less than 34 years, and a lower population over 55. Six hundred and eighty-six (13.8%) were classified as low risk, 2558 (51.6%) as medium risk and 1710 (34.5%) as high risk of having acquired genital herpes. In total, 39% reported four or fewer, and 38% reported 10 or more, sex partners in their lifetime. A large number of individuals participated in this survey, confirming that the Internet is a useful tool for health promotion for genital herpes.

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