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Herpes Simplex Virus Seroprevalence and Risk Factors in 2 Canadian Sexually Transmitted Disease Clinics

Singh, Ameeta E. BMBS, MSc*†; Romanowski, Barbara MD*; Wong, Tom MD, MPH; Gourishankar, Sita MD, MSc*; Myziuk, Linda MLT*; Fenton, Jayne MLT§; Preiksaitis, Jutta K. MD

Sexually Transmitted Diseases: February 2005 - Volume 32 - Issue 2 - p 95-100
doi: 10.1097/01.olq.0000151415.78210.85

Objectives: The objectives of this study were to determine the seroprevalence and risk factors for herpes simplex virus (HSV) types 1 and 2 in patients attending 2 Canadian sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinics.

Study: Stored sera were tested for the presence of IgG class antibodies to HSV-1 and HSV-2 and results linked to that obtained from a risk behavior questionnaire.

Results: Overall prevalences for HSV-1 and -2 were 56% and 19%, respectively. HSV-1 and -2 seropositivity was associated with increasing age, female gender, nonwhite ethnicity, and a history of STD. HSV-2 seropositivity was also associated with a history of genital herpes, presence of genital sores, and coinfection with either human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or hepatitis C (HCV).

Conclusions: Herpes simplex infection is common in this high-risk Canadian population. Our finding that HCV seropositivity was a significant predictor for HSV-2 seropositivity emphasizes the overlap between pathogens that are primarily thought to be bloodborne pathogens and sexually transmitted infections and the need to target prevention in these areas concurrently.

This study in patients attending 2 Canadian sexually transmitted disease clinics showed that a number of factors were associated with herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1 and 2 seropositivity and emphasized the association between hepatitis C, a pathogen which is usually bloodborne, and HSV-2, a sexually transmitted pathogen.

From the * University of Alberta, Alberta, Canada; † Alberta Health and Wellness, Capital Health STD Centre, Alberta, Canada; the ‡ Universities of Ottawa and Toronto, Health Canada, Ottawa, Canada; and the § Provincial Laboratory for Public Health, Alberta, Canada

The authors thank E. Francis Cook, ScD, for review of statistical analysis and manuscript and the staff of Edmonton and Calgary STD clinics for facilitating data collection.

Correspondence: Ameeta E. Singh, BMBS, MSc, 23rd Floor, Telus Plaza North Tower, P.O. Box 1360 Stn Main, 10025 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton AB T6J 2C3, Alberta, Canada. E-mail:

Received for publication March 1, 2004, and accepted August 12, 2004.

© Copyright 2005 American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association