Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Original article
Use of injectable hormonal contraception and HSV-2 acquisition in a cohort of female sex workers in Vancouver, Canada


Objectives Increased risk of herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) has been proposed as a possible indirect pathway through which hormonal contraceptives (specifically depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA)) may increase the risk of HIV acquisition among women. We investigated the effects of DMPA on HSV-2 acquisition among female sex workers.

Methods Longitudinal data were drawn from a prospective cohort of sex workers in Vancouver, Canada. The primary outcome was HSV-2 seroconversion. Extended Cox regression analyses were used to model the independent effect of DMPA use on HSV-2 acquisition.

Results Between January 2010 and February 2014, 149 HSV-2 seronegative women were enrolled, contributing to 228 person-years (py) of follow-up. Of these, 19 (13.3%) reported DMPA use. There were 39 HSV-2 seroconversions (12 among DMPA users and 27 among non-users) over the study period (median follow-up of 18.6 months (IQR 8.4–29.9)), resulting in an overall incidence rate of 17.1 cases per 100 py (95% CI 12.4 to 23.6). Incidence rates were higher among DMPA users (57.4 cases per 100 py, 95% CI 31.4 to 105.0) compared with non-users (13.1 cases per 100 py, 95% CI 8.9 to 19.1). After adjusting for key confounders, use of DMPA remained an independent predictor of HSV-2 acquisition (adjusted HR 4.43, 95% CI 1.90 to 10.35).

Conclusions The high observed incidence rates of HSV-2, together with a strong association between DMPA exposure and HSV-2 acquisition, raise serious concerns about the provision of optimal reproductive and sexual healthcare to sex workers in this setting. Given the known links between HSV-2 and HIV, our findings underscore the need for further research to better understand the potential association between DMPA and increased risk of HSV-2 and other STIs to help inform the development of safer reproductive choices for women worldwide.

  • HSV
  • HIV

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.