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J Clin Microbiol. 2003 Jan;41(1):84-9.

Regional distribution of antibodies to herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and HSV-2 in men and women in Ontario, Canada.

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  • 1Department of Family Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.


This study estimated the regional and age- and gender-specific seroprevalences of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and HSV-2 in Ontario, Canada. Stored serum specimens from subjects aged 15 to 44 years, including men (n = 979), women not under prenatal care (n = 638), and women under prenatal care (n = 701) submitted for routine viral serology were randomly selected according to regional population size from public health laboratories. HSV-1 and HSV-2 testing was done with the MRL enzyme immunoassay (EIA) (Focus Technologies), and HSV-2 was also tested by the Gull/Meridian EIA. Specimens discordant for HSV-2 antibodies between the two EIAs were resolved by a recombinant immunoblot assay (Focus Technologies). The overall age- and gender-standardized seroprevalences of HSV-1 and HSV-2 were 51.1% (95% confidence interval [CI], 50.1 to 52.1) and 9.1% (95% CI, 8.6 to 9.7), respectively. The seroprevalence of HSV-1 antibodies increased from 26.9 to 54.7% in men between 15 to 16 and 40 to 44 years of age, from 32.0 to 88.7% in women not under prenatal care, and from 55.2 to 69.2% in women under prenatal care. The seroprevalence of HSV-2 increased from 3.8 to 21.3% in men between 15 to 16 and 40 to 44 years of age, from 0 to 18.9% in women not under prenatal care, and from 3.4 to 23.1% in women under prenatal care. HSV-2 results were discordant for 3.3% (76 of 2,318) of specimens. Both types of HSV antibodies appeared to be acquired earlier among women under prenatal care than among men and women not under prenatal care. Antibodies were more prevalent among people in northern Ontario (72.9% of subjects [range, 68.4 to 77.4%] for HSV-1 and 13.7% of subjects [95% CI, 10.2 to 17.2%] for HSV-2) than elsewhere.

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