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Changing epidemiology of genital herpes simplex virus infection in Melbourne, Australia, between 1980 and 2003


Objective: To investigate changes in the proportions of patients infected with genital herpes simplex virus (HSV) types 1 and 2 from 1980 to 2003 in Melbourne, Australia.

Methods: A total of 25 372 patients were studied retrospectively. The proportions of HSV-1 and HSV-2 detected in these individuals were analysed by age, sex, and genital site.

Results: In 1980 only 15.8% of HSV positive genital specimens were HSV-1 compared to 34.9% in 2003. In 2003 HSV-1 was detected in 77% of patients aged less than 20 years. Females were more likely to be infected with HSV-1, although the rate of increased detection was more pronounced in males. Except for females over the age of 40, the trend for the increase in HSV-1 was detected in all age groups. No specific genital site in either sex was associated with the increase.

Conclusions: The proportion of genital HSV-1 has increased in Australian patients, although HSV-2 is still the most common cause of genital infection. Confirmation of HSV type is necessary for optimal patient management.

  • CPE, cytopathic effects
  • HSV, herpes simplex virus
  • genital herpesvirus infection
  • epidemiology
  • herpes simplex virus

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