Background: Herpes simplex virus type 2 is common among MSM and is a risk factor for transmission of HIV. The findings of studies investigating the relationship between infection with HSV-2 and number of sex partners among MSM are inconsistent and rarely distinguish between male and female partners.
Goal: To determine the prevalence and risk factors for infection with HSV-2, including the number and gender of sex partners, in a group of MSM in Baltimore, MD.
Study: This was a cross-sectional study among young MSM in Baltimore.
Results: Of the blood samples from 824 participants, 19.3% had HSV-2 antibodies. After adjusting for known HSV-2 correlates, independent predictors of HSV-2 seropositivity included HIV seropositivity, black race, older age, number of lifetime female sex partners, recent unprotected receptive anal intercourse with a man.
Conclusions: This study suggests that female sex partners may be an important source of HSV-2 infection among young bisexual MSM. After adjusting for known HSV-2 correlates, the number of lifetime female but not male sex partners was independently associated with HSV-2. These results highlight the need for HSV-2 prevention and treatment efforts targeting MSM who also have sex with women. Future investigations of HSV-2 and sexual behavior among MSM need to distinguish between male and female sex partners.