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The Arkansas public health office is setting up a project aimed at creating awareness to teenagers on the risk of herpes in an institution based, community context. The project will be conducted in three educational phases. It will include:

Justification

Recent research has revealed the average teenage has an average of six sexual partners. These figures are staggering since prior to the research the figure stood at three. These escalating numbers have contributed significantly to the increase of Sexually Transmitted Infections such as herpes. If left unchecked this numbers may blow to overwhelming proportions. In addition herpes prevalence appears to be on the rise among females than males. This is attributed to lack of access to centres of information and counselling. If the latter is not subject of low awareness rates, then this lack of awareness can be attributed to ignorance and careless sexual behaviour among teenagers. Herpes is the highest spreading STI after HIV. Since most lack the knowledge of its existence it has gone unnoticed in so many teenagers especially in females where genital herpes takes a relatively longer time to manifest itself. If funded, this project will enhance the spread of information and availability of counselling services to teenagers. Availability of these services in the institutions will place them well within reach of these teenagers. In addition awareness campaigns through concerts will create a form of awareness which the teenagers identify with, since they will be entertained as they are being educated. This form of awareness is aimed at attracting a large number of teenagers. Our projection after careful and intense campaigns is to reach approximately 60% of the teenagers in the city within a stipulated period of three months.    


Background of the study

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Herpes simplex has been in existence for the past 2000 years. However back then there was no viable explanation. For example in the 18th century it was so common among prostitutes that it was called the 'vocational disease.' Herpes simplex is a viral disease caused by two viruses, either the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) or type 2 (HSV-2). Herpes infection can be categorised into two based on the area of infection. Oral herpes which is the most common type of the herpes infection infects the mouth, and the symptoms include cold sores or fever blisters on the face and mouth. Genital herpes also known as herpes is the second most common form of the infection and only infects the genitals. Genital herpes is mostly caused by HSV type2 nevertheless Infection with herpes simplex virus type 1 is associated with cognitive deficits in bipolar disorder. The HSV has a cycle period between active disease of 2 to 21 days during which it manifests itself as blisters. This is then followed by a remission period during which the sores disappear. Unlike other forms of herpes genital herpes is asymptomatic i.e. the virus causes symptoms which are hard to notice since they are not typical of the disease. However viral shredding still occurs, whereby the virus inside a nerve cell becomes active and it is transported via the nerve's axon to the skin. While on the skin the virus undergoes replication and shedding causing a new infection. Moreover after the initial infection the, viruses move to the sensory nerves. Here they become dormant and reside there for life. Possibility of recurrence is however uncertain and over time there is a reduction in the frequency of active disease.   

The herpes simplex virus is mostly transmitted through direct contact with a lesion or the body fluid. Oral herpes is more common among the youth as a result of oral sex. It is mostly transmitted through the saliva. It is estimated to be present among 50% to 80% of the teenage population in America. Genital herpes on the other hand is transmitted through sexual intercourse and is hard to detect. 20% (approximately 50 million people) of the teens harbour this infection but only a few are aware. Recent studies have revealed that more than 500,000 Americans are diagnosed with the infection annually. There is no cure for herpes therefore the best applicable form of treatment is through barrier prevention such as the use of condoms. However this is not very effective as skin to skin contact may lead to spread of the disease. Since no vaccine has been developed the only form of treatment which is available is suppressive antiviral therapy, even though this does not completely cure the infection. Despite having a very small population Arkansas City boasts the highest herpes prevalence rate among teenagers of 15.3% of the total teenage population. And the number has increased significantly from 2003 to 2009. Recent studies have also revealed that herpes infected persons were highly susceptible to HIV infection with 70% of them contracting the HIV virus. According to research conducted by National Disease and Therapeutic Index (NDTI) 10.7 million of the teenage population is living with HIV.   

Irresponsible sexual behaviour among the youth is the leading cause in the increasing levels of STI infections. Without awareness these trends are subject to increase from their current standings.

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