One in four adults living in New York City has the virus that causes genital herpes, and among African-Americans the rate is almost 50 percent, official statistics show.
The sexually transmitted herpes simplex virus Type 2 is more prevalent in New York City, at 26 percent, than nationally, where 19 percent of adults, roughly one in five, are infected.
Far more women than men have the virus, 36 percent compared to 19, in the city mythologized in the television-turned-movie megahit "Sex in the City."
The study by New York City Department of Health also reveals that herpes is far more common among African-Americans -- 49 percent -- than whites (14 percent).
Most people infected with HSV-2 present no symptoms, but those that do experience periodic outbreaks of painful genital sores that heal in two to four weeks.
"Genital herpes alone will not cause serious problems for most people," said Julia Schillinger, director of surveillance for the Health Department's Bureau of Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevention and Control.
"But some people will have painful genital sores, and the infection fosters the spread of HIV," she said, urging New Yorkers to protect themselves and others.
"Using condoms consistently will help you avoid getting or spreading genital herpes," she said.