The performances of commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) in detecting herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) antibodies have been inconsistent for African and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive populations. We compared the performances of the HerpeSelect and Kalon glycoprotein G2 ELISAs for patients with genital ulcer disease in Ghana and the Central African Republic. Sera from 434 women were tested with the HerpeSelect assay, and a subsample (n = 199) was tested by the Kalon assay. Ulcer swabs and cervicovaginal lavage samples were tested for HSV-2 DNA by PCR. HSV-2-seronegative women with detectable genital HSV-2 DNA were retested for HSV-2 antibodies 14 and 28 days later by the two ELISAs. A total of 346 (80%) women were positive by HerpeSelect at baseline, and 225 (54%) had detectable genital (lesional or cervicovaginal) HSV-2 DNA. Sixty-six (19%) HerpeSelect-positive samples had low-positive index values (1.1 to 3.5), and 58% of these samples had detectable genital HSV-2 DNA. Global agreement between the two serological assays was 86%. Concordance was high (99%) for sera that were negative by HerpeSelect or had high index values (>3.5). Defining infection detected by HSV-2 DNA PCR and/or Kalon assay as true infection, 71% of sera with low-positive index values were associated with true HSV-2 infection. Twenty-five women were identified as having nonprimary first-episode genital HSV-2 infection. Rates of HSV-2 seroconversion at day 14 were 77% (10/13 patients) by HerpeSelect assay and 23% (3/13 patients) by Kalon assay, with four additional seroconversions detected by Kalon assay at day 28. HIV serostatus did not influence assay performance. Low index values obtained with the HerpeSelect assay may correspond to true HSV-2 infection, in particular to nonprimary first episodes of genital HSV-2 infection, and need to be interpreted in the context of clinical history.
Journal of Clinical Microbiology (2008) 46 (6) pp. 1914-1918 [doi:10.1128/JCM.02332-07].