Objective: To determine the seroprevalence of herpes simplex virus infection in a population of HIV-infected individuals in Canada.
Methods: HIV-infected patients attending 5 infectious disease clinics for follow-up care were approached to participate in the study. After informed consent was obtained, subjects completed a questionnaire documenting HIV-risk behavior, duration of infection, history of oral and/or genital herpes, and treatment for HIV and/or genital herpes. Blood for HSV type-specific serology was drawn and tested by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (Focus Diagnostics HerpeSelect HSV-1, HSV-2 enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay IgG). Equivocal samples were repeated and any discrepant results were resolved with Western blot.
Results: Six hundred twenty-nine HIV-infected individuals participated. The mean age was 43.9 years, 74.7% were Canadian born and 72.3% were men. The majority of foreign-born subjects were black (endemic) and women. The seroprevalence of HSV-1 and HSV-2 was 78.1% and 54.6%, respectively. Women were 2.7 times more likely to be HSV-2 seropositive, non-Canadian-born participants were 2.0 times more likely to be HSV-2 seropositive, and nonwhite subjects were 3.2 times more likely to be seropositive. Men who had sex with other men had the lowest seroprevalence of HSV-2. Only 30.3% of HSV-2 positive subjects reported a history of genital herpes.
Conclusions: A significant proportion of HIV-infected subjects attending 5 infectious disease clinics in Canada are coinfected with HSV. Routine type-specific HSV-2 testing should be introduced to direct education regarding symptoms, signs, and transmission reduction of genital herpes and perhaps ultimately HIV-1. Knowledge of HSV serostatus would also provide an opportunity to consider antiviral therapy.