Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Original article
Prevalence of HIV, HSV-2 and pregnancy among high school students in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: a bio-behavioural cross-sectional survey
  1. Quarraisha Abdool Karim1,2,
  2. Ayesha B M Kharsany1,
  3. Kerry Leask1,
  4. Fanelisibonge Ntombela1,
  5. Hilton Humphries1,
  6. Janet A Frohlich1,
  7. Natasha Samsunder1,
  8. Anneke Grobler1,
  9. Rachael Dellar1,
  10. Salim S Abdool Karim1,2
  1. 1Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
  2. 2Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University,
  1. Correspondence to Dr Quarraisha Abdool Karim, CAPRISA: 2nd Floor, Doris Duke Medical Research Institute, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal/Private Bag 7, Congella 4013, Durban, South Africa; abdoolq2{at}


Objective Adolescents in southern African high schools are a key population for HIV prevention interventions. We report on the prevalence of HIV, HSV-2 and pregnancy as indicators of high-risk sexual behaviour among high school students in rural KwaZulu-Natal.

Design Bio-behavioural cross-sectional survey.

Methods Students completed a self-administered structured, standardised demographic and sexual behavioural questionnaire. Dried blood spot specimens were collected for HIV and HSV-2 testing. Urine specimens were used for pregnancy testing in female students.

Results A total of 2675 (1423 females, 1252 males) consenting students were enrolled from 14 high schools between September and November 2010. The median age of students was 16 years (IQR 15–18). HIV prevalence was 1.4% (95% CI 0.9 to 1.9) in males and 6.4% (95% CI 4.6 to 8.3) in females (p<0.001). HSV-2 prevalence was 2.6% (95% CI 1.6 to 3.7) in males and 10.7% (95% CI 8.8 to 12.6) in females (p<0.001). Pregnancy prevalence was 3.6% (95% CI 2.6 to 4.5). Risk factors for prevalent HIV infection in female students included being over 18 years of age (adjusted OR (aOR)=2.67, 95% CI 1.67 to 4.27; p<0.001), prevalent HSV-2 infection (aOR=4.35, 95% CI 2.61 to 7.24; p<0.001), previous pregnancy (aOR=1.66, 95% CI 1.10 to 2.51; p=0.016) and experience of two or more deaths in the household in the previous year (aOR=1.97, 95% CI 1.13 to 3.44; p=0.016).

Conclusions The high prevalence of HIV, HSV-2 and pregnancy underscore the need for school-based sexual and reproductive health services, and provide further impetus for the inclusion of adolescents in behavioural and biomedical trials with HIV incidence endpoints.

  • Adolescent
  • Africa
  • HIV
  • Pregnancy
  • HSV

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.