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J Infect Dis. 2002 Oct 15;186 Suppl 1:S34-9.

Genital shedding of herpes simplex virus among men.

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Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98122, USA.


Epidemiologic studies suggest that most sexual transmission of genital herpes occurs when persons shed virus but lack lesions. This study assessed 79 men (63 with a history of genital herpes simplex virus [HSV] type 2 infection, 5 with a history of genital HSV-1 infection, and 11 with HSV-2 antibodies but no history of genital herpes) and obtained daily swabs for viral culture. HSV was isolated at least once from 60 (81%) HSV-2-seropositive men. The total viral shedding rate in HSV-2-seropositive men was 5%; the subclinical shedding rate was 2.2%. Of 11 HSV-2-seropositive men without a genital herpes history, 7 recognized typical recurrences and HSV was detected in 10. The shedding rate among men with genital HSV-2 was significantly higher than among men with genital HSV-1 infection (odds ratio, 4.4; 95% confidence interval, 1.2-15.3). The frequency of viral shedding in men with genital herpes appears comparable with that in women.

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