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Prevalence and risk factors of HSV-1 and HSV-2 antibodies in European HIV infected women
  1. B H B van Benthem,
  2. J Spaargaren,
  3. J A R van den Hoek,
  4. J Merks,
  5. R A Coutinho,
  6. M Prins,
  7. the European Study on the Natural History of HIV Infection in Women
  1. Municipal Health Service, Division of Public Health and Environment, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  1. Birgit van Benthem, Municipal Health Service, Division of Public Health and Environment, Nieuwe Achtergracht 100, 1018 WT Amsterdam, Netherlands bvbenthem{at}


Objectives: To investigate the prevalence and risk factors of HSV-1 and HSV-2 antibodies in HIV infected women and the association between recurrent genital ulcerations and HIV disease progression in HSV-2 positive women.

Methods: The presence of HSV antibodies was tested in 276 of the 487 women participating in a European cohort study of HIV infected women. Prevalence rate ratios described the association between HSV infection and its risk factors, using log binomial regression. Generalised estimating equations (GEE) analysis was performed to determine the impact of markers of HIV disease progression on recurrent genital ulcerations.

Results: The prevalence of HSV-1 and HSV-2 antibodies was 76% (95% confidence interval (95% CI): 71–81) and 42% (95% CI: 36–50); 30% (95% CI: 24–35) of the women had antibodies against both HSV-1 and HSV-2. The prevalence of HSV-1 was 86% (95% CI: 80–92) in southern Europe compared with 69% (95% CI: 57–79) and 67% (95% CI: 55–77) in central and northern Europe (p=0.002). This geographical variation remained after adjustment for other risk factors. An increasing number of years of sexual activity (p=0.0002) and a history of prostitution (p=0.0001) were independently associated with HSV-2 prevalence. In HSV-2 positive women, symptomatic cases of HSV infection were minimal, but increased with decreasing CD4 count.

Conclusion: In HIV infected women, the prevalence of HSV antibodies is high and symptomatic cases of HSV infection are minimal, but increase with decreasing CD4 count. HSV-2 but not HSV-1 was related to sexual behaviour (that is, a history of prostitution and the number of sexually active years) in this group of HIV infected women.

  • herpes simplex viruses
  • genital ulcerations
  • HIV infection
  • women
  • Europe

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