New Survey Shows Most Americans Are 'Not At All' Concerned With Contracting Genital Herpes

Survey Reveals Nearly 80 Percent of People Do Not Realize Epidemic

Proportions of Disease



Apr 17, 2001, 01:00 ET from Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation

    EAST HANOVER, N.J., April 17 /PRNewswire/ -- According to a nationwide
 survey released today, nearly 80 percent of Americans are unaware of how
 widespread genital herpes has become and 65 percent of people say that they
 are "not at all" concerned about contracting the disease.  These new figures,
 which reaffirm the common "it can't happen to me" attitude, contrast sharply
 with the real incidence figures of genital herpes, a chronic and incurable
 virus.  Statistics show that genital herpes affects 1 out of every 5 teens and
 adults in the United States and has increased a staggering 30 percent over the
 last two decades.
     "The fact that so many people have genital herpes, yet virtually everybody
 underestimates the pervasiveness of the disease and their own personal risk is
 what I call the herpes disconnect," stated Linda Alexander, PhD, FAAN,
 president of the American Social Health Association (ASHA).  "This disparity
 needs to be addressed because 90 percent of those who have genital herpes
 remain undiagnosed.  People should feel comfortable discussing STD's like
 genital herpes with their healthcare provider to ensure that they get the
 correct diagnosis and treatment."
 
     Genital Herpes:  Real Risk Versus Perceived Risk
     The survey, conducted by The Center for Survey Research and Analysis
 (CSRA) at the University of Connecticut, showed that nearly 8 out of 10 people
 were unable to select the correct prevalence of genital herpes in the United
 States and 8 out of 10 people considered themselves either "not at all
 concerned" or "not too concerned" about contracting the disease.  Yet
 statistics from ASHA indicate that 50 million Americans have genital herpes,
 and there are 1 million newly diagnosed infections each year.
     Furthermore, the survey revealed that women were less concerned with
 contracting the disease than men (70 versus 58 percent).  Yet, the incidence
 rate of contracting genital herpes is higher in women than in men
 (1 out of 4 vs. 1 out of 5), which may be because male to female transmission
 is more efficient than female to male transmission.  Additionally, when asked
 about treatments, only 26 percent of the people surveyed knew that treatment
 is available that can reduce outbreaks by 80 percent.
     "I see many genital herpes patients who have suffered painful and frequent
 outbreaks for years because they were unaware of treatments that significantly
 reduce the number of outbreaks," said Hilary Baldwin, vice-chair and associate
 professor of clinical dermatology at the State University of New York (SUNY)
 Health and Science Center in Brooklyn.  "A study published in the Journal of
 the American Medical Association showed that by using the prescription
 medication Famvir(R) as prescribed, the frequency of outbreaks from genital
 herpes can be reduced from an average of 5 to 1 over a one-year period.  If
 more people knew this, I think they would more readily seek diagnosis and
 treatment."  In clinical trials, 29 percent of Famvir patients were recurrence
 free after one year, versus 6 percent on placebo.
 
     The Good News - Public Understanding is Moving in the Right Direction
     "Although the survey indicates that we still have a long way to go in
 educating the public about the risk, we have made strides in helping people
 understand how to better protect themselves from contracting genital herpes,"
 commented ASHA's Alexander.
     According to the survey, 75 percent of respondents were aware that genital
 herpes could be transmitted to a partner even if the infected individual is
 not having an outbreak.  This asymptomatic transmission is known as viral
 shedding, which occurs when the virus is no longer dormant and begins to
 replicate.  Although no symptoms are present, the virus can be transmitted
 during this time.  Respondents also knew (76 percent) that the use of a latex
 condom does not fully protect against transmission.
 
     Treatments Are Available
     Although there is no cure for genital herpes, the antiviral medication
 Famvir(R) (famciclovir), when used for suppressive therapy can reduce the
 frequency and duration of outbreaks from 5 to 1 over a one-year period.  In
 clinical trials, 29 percent of patients were recurrence free after one year
 versus 6 percent on placebo.  Famvir has also been shown to reduce all
 symptoms associated with episodic or individual outbreaks of genital herpes.
 Famvir is proven to abort viral shedding 47 percent sooner compared to
 placebo.  In addition, genital herpes is one of the most common co-infections
 in HIV-infected people and Famvir is the only antiviral medication indicated
 to treat recurrent genital herpes in HIV-infected patients.  Famvir was also
 shown to have a favorable safety profile in clinical trials.  The most common
 side effects were headache (episodic genital herpes:  23.6 vs. 16.4% for
 placebo; genital herpes suppression:  39.3 vs. 42.9% for placebo), nausea
 (episodic genital herpes:  10 vs. 9.5% for placebo), and diarrhea (genital
 herpes suppression: 9 vs. 9.5% for placebo).
     ASHA is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to stopping STDs and
 their harmful consequences to individuals, families and communities.  ASHA's
 programs include hotlines and Web sites to provide up-to-date information on
 genital herpes and other STDs.  People wanting to learn more about genital
 herpes can visit http://www.ashastd.org or consult trained health
 communications specialists at the toll-free National Herpes Hotline at
 1-877-411-HERPES.
     The survey polled 1,000 people nationwide via random telephone sampling
 and was conducted by The Center for Survey Research and Analysis (CSRA) at the
 University of Connecticut.  The confidence level of the sample is 95 percent
 with a sampling error of + or - 3 percent.  The research determined the level
 of awareness among the general public of genital herpes treatment and disease
 awareness.  Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation sponsored the survey.
 
     About Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation
     Famvir is marketed by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.  Located in
 East Hanover, New Jersey, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation is an affiliate
 of the Novartis Group (NYSE:   NVS), a world leader in healthcare with core
 businesses in pharmaceuticals, consumer health, generics, eye-care, and animal
 health.  In 2000, the Group's ongoing businesses achieved sales of CHF
 29.1 billion (USD 17.2 billion) and invested approximately CHF 4.0 billion
 (USD 2.4 billion) in R&D. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis
 employs about 67,600 people and operates in over 140 countries around the
 world. For further information please consult http://www.novartis.com.
 
 

SOURCE Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation
    EAST HANOVER, N.J., April 17 /PRNewswire/ -- According to a nationwide
 survey released today, nearly 80 percent of Americans are unaware of how
 widespread genital herpes has become and 65 percent of people say that they
 are "not at all" concerned about contracting the disease.  These new figures,
 which reaffirm the common "it can't happen to me" attitude, contrast sharply
 with the real incidence figures of genital herpes, a chronic and incurable
 virus.  Statistics show that genital herpes affects 1 out of every 5 teens and
 adults in the United States and has increased a staggering 30 percent over the
 last two decades.
     "The fact that so many people have genital herpes, yet virtually everybody
 underestimates the pervasiveness of the disease and their own personal risk is
 what I call the herpes disconnect," stated Linda Alexander, PhD, FAAN,
 president of the American Social Health Association (ASHA).  "This disparity
 needs to be addressed because 90 percent of those who have genital herpes
 remain undiagnosed.  People should feel comfortable discussing STD's like
 genital herpes with their healthcare provider to ensure that they get the
 correct diagnosis and treatment."
 
     Genital Herpes:  Real Risk Versus Perceived Risk
     The survey, conducted by The Center for Survey Research and Analysis
 (CSRA) at the University of Connecticut, showed that nearly 8 out of 10 people
 were unable to select the correct prevalence of genital herpes in the United
 States and 8 out of 10 people considered themselves either "not at all
 concerned" or "not too concerned" about contracting the disease.  Yet
 statistics from ASHA indicate that 50 million Americans have genital herpes,
 and there are 1 million newly diagnosed infections each year.
     Furthermore, the survey revealed that women were less concerned with
 contracting the disease than men (70 versus 58 percent).  Yet, the incidence
 rate of contracting genital herpes is higher in women than in men
 (1 out of 4 vs. 1 out of 5), which may be because male to female transmission
 is more efficient than female to male transmission.  Additionally, when asked
 about treatments, only 26 percent of the people surveyed knew that treatment
 is available that can reduce outbreaks by 80 percent.
     "I see many genital herpes patients who have suffered painful and frequent
 outbreaks for years because they were unaware of treatments that significantly
 reduce the number of outbreaks," said Hilary Baldwin, vice-chair and associate
 professor of clinical dermatology at the State University of New York (SUNY)
 Health and Science Center in Brooklyn.  "A study published in the Journal of
 the American Medical Association showed that by using the prescription
 medication Famvir(R) as prescribed, the frequency of outbreaks from genital
 herpes can be reduced from an average of 5 to 1 over a one-year period.  If
 more people knew this, I think they would more readily seek diagnosis and
 treatment."  In clinical trials, 29 percent of Famvir patients were recurrence
 free after one year, versus 6 percent on placebo.
 
     The Good News - Public Understanding is Moving in the Right Direction
     "Although the survey indicates that we still have a long way to go in
 educating the public about the risk, we have made strides in helping people
 understand how to better protect themselves from contracting genital herpes,"
 commented ASHA's Alexander.
     According to the survey, 75 percent of respondents were aware that genital
 herpes could be transmitted to a partner even if the infected individual is
 not having an outbreak.  This asymptomatic transmission is known as viral
 shedding, which occurs when the virus is no longer dormant and begins to
 replicate.  Although no symptoms are present, the virus can be transmitted
 during this time.  Respondents also knew (76 percent) that the use of a latex
 condom does not fully protect against transmission.
 
     Treatments Are Available
     Although there is no cure for genital herpes, the antiviral medication
 Famvir(R) (famciclovir), when used for suppressive therapy can reduce the
 frequency and duration of outbreaks from 5 to 1 over a one-year period.  In
 clinical trials, 29 percent of patients were recurrence free after one year
 versus 6 percent on placebo.  Famvir has also been shown to reduce all
 symptoms associated with episodic or individual outbreaks of genital herpes.
 Famvir is proven to abort viral shedding 47 percent sooner compared to
 placebo.  In addition, genital herpes is one of the most common co-infections
 in HIV-infected people and Famvir is the only antiviral medication indicated
 to treat recurrent genital herpes in HIV-infected patients.  Famvir was also
 shown to have a favorable safety profile in clinical trials.  The most common
 side effects were headache (episodic genital herpes:  23.6 vs. 16.4% for
 placebo; genital herpes suppression:  39.3 vs. 42.9% for placebo), nausea
 (episodic genital herpes:  10 vs. 9.5% for placebo), and diarrhea (genital
 herpes suppression: 9 vs. 9.5% for placebo).
     ASHA is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to stopping STDs and
 their harmful consequences to individuals, families and communities.  ASHA's
 programs include hotlines and Web sites to provide up-to-date information on
 genital herpes and other STDs.  People wanting to learn more about genital
 herpes can visit http://www.ashastd.org or consult trained health
 communications specialists at the toll-free National Herpes Hotline at
 1-877-411-HERPES.
     The survey polled 1,000 people nationwide via random telephone sampling
 and was conducted by The Center for Survey Research and Analysis (CSRA) at the
 University of Connecticut.  The confidence level of the sample is 95 percent
 with a sampling error of + or - 3 percent.  The research determined the level
 of awareness among the general public of genital herpes treatment and disease
 awareness.  Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation sponsored the survey.
 
     About Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation
     Famvir is marketed by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.  Located in
 East Hanover, New Jersey, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation is an affiliate
 of the Novartis Group (NYSE:   NVS), a world leader in healthcare with core
 businesses in pharmaceuticals, consumer health, generics, eye-care, and animal
 health.  In 2000, the Group's ongoing businesses achieved sales of CHF
 29.1 billion (USD 17.2 billion) and invested approximately CHF 4.0 billion
 (USD 2.4 billion) in R&D. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis
 employs about 67,600 people and operates in over 140 countries around the
 world. For further information please consult http://www.novartis.com.
 
 SOURCE  Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation

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