Goal: To determine type-specific seroprevalence of herpes simplex viruses (HSV-1 and HSV-2) and HSV-2 risk factors.
Study Design: Six-hundred fifty eight middle-aged control women (hospital-based in 4 of 6 countries) from a multicenter cervical cancer case–control study participated from 1985 to 1997. Type-specific serum IgG antibodies against HSV-1 and HSV-2 were detected with Western Blot.
Results: HSV-1 seroprevalence was 89% to 100% everywhere except Thailand (51%). HSV-2 seroprevalence ranged from 9% (Spain) to 57% (Colombia), and was independently associated with having ≥2 lifetime sexual partners overall [Odds ratio (OR), 2.1; 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.5–3.1], and in Morocco (OR, 2.7; 95% CI, 1.2–6.1) and Thailand (OR, 4.4; 95% CI, 1.3–15.4), and with being unmarried in Colombia, Peru, Spain, but not significantly in Mali. Women whose male partner’s sexual debut was ≤17 years had a higher HSV-2 risk (OR, 4.3 95% CI, 1.3–13.7).
Conclusions: HSV-2 seroprevalence in middle-aged women varied over 4-fold and was associated with riskier sexual behaviors in women and their male partners.