This study was designed to determine the seroprevalence of herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) and to evaluate its association with age, sex and other demographic and behavioural factors in 150 human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) positive adult patients attending the general medical outpatient ward for routine care of Niterói, state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Serum samples were screened for HSV-2 antibodies using an indirect ELISA. Eighty-three patients were men (mean age: 38.8) and 67 were women (mean age: 35.4). The estimated prevalence of HSV-2 was 52% (95% CI: 44-60%) and it was higher among men (53%) than among women (50.7%). Overall, the age of first sexual intercourse and past history of genital herpes were associated with HSV-2 seropositivity. Analysis by gender disclosed significant association with number of lifetime sex partners only among men. Although HSV-2 antibodies were frequent in the study group, genital herpes was reported by 21.8% of the HSV-2 positive subjects, indicating low awareness of the HSV-2 infection. These results may have public health importance for Brazil as the high rate of HSV-2 infection may act as a cofactor of HIV transmission.
Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz (2006) 101 (3) pp. 315-319 [doi:10.1590/S0074-02762006000300016].