Objectives Herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2) and syphilis are associated with increased risk of HIV, highlighting the importance of understanding their transmission dynamics. In India, most studies of HSV-2 and syphilis incidence are in high-risk populations and may not accurately reflect infectious activity. In this study, we aim to define HSV-2/syphilis incidence and risk factors in a population sample.
Methods We conducted a longitudinal population-based survey in Andhra Pradesh, India, in two rounds: 2004–2005 and 2010–2011. Sociodemographic and behavioural data were collected, and dried blood spots tested for HSV-2 and Treponema pallidum IgG. After calculating sexually transmitted infection (STI) incidence, associated factors were assessed using modified Poisson regression and within-couple transmission rates modelled using seroconcordance/discordance data.
Results 12 617 adults participated at baseline with 8494 at follow-up. Incidence of HSV-2 and syphilis per 1000 person-years was 25.6 (95% CI 24.1 to 27.2) and 3.00 (95% CI 2.52 to 3.54). Incidence of HSV-2 was higher in women vs men (31.1 vs 20.2) and in rural vs urban residents (31.1 vs 19.0) (p<0.05 for both). STI seroincidence increased in a step-wise fashion with age and was associated with spousal seropositivity for both sexes (incidence rate ratio (IRR) 2.59 to 6.78). Within couples the rate of transmission per 1000 couple-years from men to women vs women to men was higher for HSV-2 (193.3 vs 119.0) compared with syphilis (27.6 vs 198.8), p<0.05 for both.
Conclusions HSV-2 has higher incidence among subpopulations such as women, rural residents and older-aged individuals, suggesting a need for more generalised STI prevention approaches among populations traditionally considered low risk.
- EPIDEMIOLOGY (GENERAL)