Journal Article

Genital Tract Shedding of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 in Women: Effects of Hormonal Contraception, Bacterial Vaginosis, and Vaginal Group B <i>Streptococcus</i> Colonization

Thomas L. Cherpes, Melissa A. Melan, Jeffrey A. Kant, Lisa A. Cosentino, Leslie A. Meyn and Sharon L. Hillier

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 40, issue 10, pages 1422-1428
Published in print May 2005 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online May 2005 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/429622
Genital Tract Shedding of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 in Women: Effects of Hormonal Contraception, Bacterial Vaginosis, and Vaginal Group B Streptococcus Colonization

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Background

Genital infections due to herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) are characterized by frequent reactivation and shedding of the virus and by the attendant risk of transmission to sexual partners. We investigated the effects of vaginal coinfections and hormonal contraceptive use on genital tract shedding of HSV-2 in women.

Methods

A total of 330 HSV-2-seropositive women were followed every 4 months for a year. At each visit, one vaginal swab specimen was obtained for detection of HSV-2 by polymerase chain reaction, a second vaginal swab specimen was obtained for detection of group B Streptococcus (GBS) organisms and yeast by culture, and a vaginal smear was obtained for the diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis by Gram staining.

Results

HSV-2 DNA was detected in 88 (9%) of 956 vaginal swab specimens. Independent predictors of genital tract shedding of HSV-2 were HSV-2 seroconversion during the previous 4 months (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 3.0; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.3–6.8), bacterial vaginosis (aOR, 2.3; 95% CI, 1.3–4.0), high-density vaginal GBS colonization (aOR, 2.2; 95% CI, 1.3–3.8), and use of hormonal contraceptives (aOR, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.1–2.8).

Conclusions

The present study identifies hormonal contraceptive use, bacterial vaginosis, and high-density vaginal GBS colonization as risk factors for genital tract shedding of HSV-2 in women. Because hormonal contraceptives are used by millions of women worldwide and because bacterial vaginosis and vaginal GBS colonization are common vaginal conditions, even modest associations with HSV-2 shedding would result in substantial attributable risks for transmission of the virus.

Journal Article.  4759 words. 

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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