You’ve probably heard some rumors here and there about the CDC’s “Reportable Diseases List” (it’s actually the “National Notifiable Diseases List”).  So, what is this list?  What’s really on it?  Do they really keep a database of people with STDs?

The CDC makes an annual list of diseases and conditions about which they would like to gather more epidemiological information.  Sort of like a wish list for scientists and statisticians.  In this case, “we wish we had more data about the state _____ in society”.  They then model the specific data they’d like to gather for each condition, the manner in which they’d like it gathered – which tests, etc – format how’d they’d like it reported and send it out across the country.  When people show up sick in the clinic or hospital with any of these conditions, the healthcare professionals follow the steps in the guidelines and submit the results to the health department, from city/county to the state, which compiles and forwards the data to the federal government. 

What isn’t reported is any personal identifying information. They couldn’t care less who you are; they want to know how many people in the US got chickenpox this year, along with their demographics: their age, gender and race; city, county and state.  That’s about it.  If you happened to be diagnosed with some rare, life-threatening, potentially epidemic-causing disease, then yes – by all means – they’d keep tabs on you like you were a nuclear warhead and call the CDC immediately.  However, that isn’t the case here.  It’s HSV: most everyone carries at least one type.  You may not already know that, but they most certainly do.

Mentions of Herpes-Related Topics On The CDC’s National Notifiable Diseases List, By Year (1993-2014)

Reportable_Disease_History

 

As you can see, contrary to the myth, nothing pertaining to “HSV” or “Herpes” has ever appeared in the CDC’s Notifiable Diseases List going back to 1993.  Nothing at all. That doesn’t mean some county health department might not have temporarily placed it on their own list at some point in time, but the CDC sure wasn’t looking for that information and there’s no logical reason anyone – including the county – would go through all the trouble to document something they already know most everyone carries.  Not, at least, until they have a valid reason: to monitor the effectiveness of a national vaccine program or something of the sort.

 

Herpes Simplex isn’t on the list.  Herpes Simplex has never been on the list.  Not, at least, in the past 20 years. They don’t need anyone to report herpes; they already know most everyone carries HSV and that an unfortunate few will occasionally come down with herpes because of it. That’s not to say it might never make it on the list. If/when a vaccine should be discovered and they vaccinate the entire population, they may want to monitor the efficacy of that vaccine and see how the overall national prevalence is impacted. So, they may track it to see how many new cases crop up after the vaccination program rolls out. However, even if they did, they still wouldn’t care which individuals have it, what their names were; where they live. That’s all paranoia.

 

So what is “the list”?  It’s a list of diseases, not people… and no, they don’t keep a “database of people with herpes” or any other condition, for that matter; they keep a database of demographic data about the people who have been affected by each disease on their list.  Only in the case of extreme threats to public health – Bird Flu, Swine Flu, etc – might the CDC keep identifying info on actively infected persons, as they’ll actually need to remain in close contact with those persons and their physicians.
 
Your friendly neighborhood epidemiologist would be happy to confirm any of this for you.

 

Look for yourself.  Here’s every list back to 1993:

Summary of Notifiable Diseases, United States, 2014

View this issue 

Mentions:
Genital Herpes: No | Herpes: No | HSV-1: No | HSV-2: No


Summary of Notifiable Diseases, United States, 2013
View this issue 

Genital Herpes: No | Herpes: No | HSV-1: No | HSV-2: No


Summary of Notifiable Diseases, United States, 2012
View this issue 

Genital Herpes: No | Herpes: No | HSV-1: No | HSV-2: No


Summary of Notifiable Diseases, United States, 2011
View this issue (Note: Large file – 4,988,692 bytes)

Genital Herpes: No | Herpes: No | HSV-1: No | HSV-2: No


Summary of Notifiable Diseases, United States, 2010
View this issue (Note: Large file – 5,428,921 bytes)

Genital Herpes: No | Herpes: No | HSV-1: No | HSV-2: No


Summary of Notifiable Diseases, United States, 2009
View this issue (Note: Large file – 3,910,955 bytes)

Genital Herpes: No | Herpes: No | HSV-1: No | HSV-2: No


Summary of Notifiable Diseases, United States, 2008
View this issue (Note: Large file – 4,089,321 bytes)

Genital Herpes: No | Herpes: No | HSV-1: No | HSV-2: No


Summary of Notifiable Diseases, United States, 2007
View this issue (Note: Large file – 4,162,815 bytes)

Genital Herpes: No | Herpes: No | HSV-1: No | HSV-2: No


Summary of Notifiable Diseases, United States, 2006
View this issue (Note: Large file – 1,150,976 bytes)

Genital Herpes: No | Herpes: No | HSV-1: No | HSV-2: No


Summary of Notifiable Diseases, United States, 2005
View this issue  (Note: Large file – 1,150,976 bytes)

Genital Herpes: No | Herpes: No | HSV-1: No | HSV-2: No


Summary of Notifiable Diseases, United States, 2004
View this issue (Note: Large file – 1,720,320 bytes)

Genital Herpes: No | Herpes: No | HSV-1: No | HSV-2: No


Summary of Notifiable Diseases, United States, 2003
View this issue (Note: Large file – 1,150,976 bytes)

Genital Herpes: No | Herpes: No | HSV-1: No | HSV-2: No


Summary of Notifiable Diseases, United States, 2002
View this issue (Note: Large file – 2,306,048 bytes)

Genital Herpes: No | Herpes: No | HSV-1: No | HSV-2: No


Summary of Notifiable Diseases, United States, 2001
View this issue (Note: Large file – 1,201,152 bytes)

Genital Herpes: No | Herpes: No | HSV-1: No | HSV-2: No


Summary of Notifiable Diseases, United States, 2000
View this issue (Note: Large file – 801,018 bytes)

Genital Herpes: No | Herpes: No | HSV-1: No | HSV-2: No


Summary of Notifiable Diseases, United States, 1999
View this issue (Note: Large file – 1,037,180 bytes)

Genital Herpes: No | Herpes: No | HSV-1: No | HSV-2: No


Summary of Notifiable Diseases, United States, 1998
View this issue (Note: Large file – 1,283,297 bytes)

Genital Herpes: No | Herpes: No | HSV-1: No | HSV-2: No


Summary of Notifiable Diseases, United States, 1997
View this issue (Note: Large file – 1,137,422 bytes)

Genital Herpes: No | Herpes: No | HSV-1: No | HSV-2: No


Summary of Notifiable Diseases, United States, 1996
View this issue (Note: Large file – 1,044,524 bytes)

Genital Herpes: No | Herpes: No | HSV-1: No | HSV-2: No


Summary of Notifiable Diseases, United States, 1995
View this issue (Note: Large file – 1,044,524 bytes)

Genital Herpes: No | Herpes: No | HSV-1: No | HSV-2: No


Summary of Notifiable Diseases, United States, 1994
View this issue (Note: Large file – 3,197,058 bytes)

Genital Herpes: No | Herpes: No | HSV-1: No | HSV-2: No


Summary of Notifiable Diseases, United States, 1993
View this issue (Note: Large file – 5,117,581 bytes)

Genital Herpes: No | Herpes: No | HSV-1: No | HSV-2: No


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