Sunday, January 24, 2016

Correlates to Seroprevalent Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 among Rural Appalachian Drug Users

Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) is the most common cause of genital ulcer disease and, along with substance abuse, an important HIV risk factor. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine HSV-2 seroprevalence in a sample of drug users in rural Appalachia. 

Rural Appalachian individuals age 18 or older reporting non-medical use of prescription opioids, heroin, crack/cocaine, or methamphetamine in the past 6 months (n = 499) were included. Behavioral, demographic, and sexual network data were collected using interviewer-administered questionnaires. 

Participants' serum was tested for HSV-2 antibodies using the Biokit rapid test (Lexington, MA). The estimated population seroprevalence of HSV-2 was 14.4% (95%CI: 9.6-19.4%). Only 8.8% were aware of being HSV-2+, and unprotected sex was reported in 80% of serodiscordant sexual relationships. 

In a multivariate model, female gender, age, older age at first oral sex, and frequency of unprotected sex in the sexual network were independently associated with HSV-2 seropositivity. Despite lower seroprevalence than that reported in similar studies of substance abusers, targeted interventions to reduce sexual risk behavior are warranted in this underserved population. 

Network-informed approaches with particular focus on women, older individuals, and those engaging in frequent unprotected sex are recommended.

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By:  Stephens DB1,2Young AM2,3Mullins UL2Havens JR1,2.
  • 1Department of Behavioral Science (, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, Kentucky.
  • 2Center on Drug and Alcohol Research, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, Kentucky.
  • 3Department of Epidemiology, University of Kentucky College of Public Health, Lexington, Kentucky. 
  •  2016 Mar;88(3):512-20. doi: 10.1002/jmv.24358. Epub 2015 Aug 27.

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