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Australians in denial about their risk of shingles

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About 1 in 3 people will develop shingles in their lifetime. However, in a recent survey commissioned by GSK Australia, which includes a sample group of 300 Australians aged 50 to 79, 73 percent of participants perceived the impact of shingles as ‘very serious’, but only 11 percent regarded themselves as being personally at risk of shingles in the next year.  

According to infectious disease specialist, Professor Robert Booy, these latest statistics indicate an important role for healthcare professionals in educating patients about the impact of shingles in Australia.

“We need to be upfront with patients about the risks associated with thinking ‘it will never happen to me’”, said Professor Booy.

“Patients 50 years of age and over are often in denial about their risk of shingles; however, about one in three people will develop shingles in their lifetime as almost all adults aged 50 and over carry the chicken pox virus from being infected usually during childhood.

Professor Booy suggests that an open conversation about a patient’s risk of developing shingles makes good sense.

“We can better include shingles in the conversation with these patients by drawing attention to its negative impact on quality of life. If people are prompted to consider all the things that a shingles episode would stop them from doing, their understanding of risk may change, and this is a major step in helping them stay healthy,” commented Professor Booy. 

Shingles Awareness Week (27 February to 5 March) aims to increase understanding of the impact of shingles and address the common misconceptions surrounding the risk of developing shingles.

The Shingles Awareness Week campaign is sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline Australia Pty Ltd (GSK).

For more information about shingles, visit

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