Rising incidence of genital herpes over two decades in a sexually transmitted disease clinic in north India

J Dermatol. 2002 Feb;29(2):74-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1346-8138.2002.tb00169.x.


Genital herpes, which was considered to be a minor sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the past in developing countries, is rapidly increasing; in contrast, bacterial STDs are declining. This changing trend of various STDs prompted us to analyze our data retrospectively to see whether a similar change is occurring in this part of India as well. The records of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) clinic attendees from January 1977 to December 2000 were analyzed. The demographic profile of patients with genital herpes was also considered for analysis. STDs were diagnosed clinically and by appropriate laboratory tests wherever applicable. VDRL test was done in all patients, and HIV antibody detection was performed from 1987 onwards. The incidences of chancroid, donovanosis, and gonorrhea were 12.2%, 6.3%, and 16.9%, respectively, from January 1977 to December 1985. The figures for the same decreased to 2.5%, 0.9%, and 2.3%, respectively, from January 1993 to December 2000. The decreasing incidence of the above bacterial STDs is statistically significant (p<0.001). However, there was an approximately two-fold increase in the incidence of genital herpes in recent years (20.5%) in comparison to the figures from the late 70s (11.4%). Molluscum contagiosum also showed an upward trend (1% in 1977-85 vs. 9.8% in 1993-2000). Condylomata accuminata remained almost unchanged (21.4% in 1977-85 vs. 20% in 1993-2000). To conclude, a significant increase in the number of viral STDs and a decline in the bacterial diseases were observed in recent years in comparison to the figures from the late 70s. This may be due to awareness of HIV, success of control programs, syndromic management of STDs, and adoption of safer sexual practices, which prevent bacterial STDs more efficiently than viral ones.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Female
  • Herpes Genitalis / diagnosis
  • Herpes Genitalis / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • India / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Probability
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Viral / diagnosis
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Viral / epidemiology*