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G Ital Dermatol Venereol. 2019 Oct;154(5):529-532. doi: 10.23736/S0392-0488.17.05563-8. Epub 2017 Feb 8.

Recurrent herpes labialis and Herpes simplex virus-1 genitalis: what is the link?

Author information

1
Unit of Dermatology, Department of Medical Sciences, Center of Genital Dermatology and Sexually Transmitted Infections, University of Turin, Turin, Italy.
2
Unit of Microbiology and Virology, Laboratory of Virology, Città della Salute e della Scienza, Turin, Italy.
3
Department of Public Health and Pediatrics, University of Turin, Turin, Italy.
4
Section of Dermatology, Department of Medical Sciences, University of Turin, Turin, Italy.
5
Section of Dermatology, Department of Health Sciences, San Martino University Hospital IRCCS, University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy - giuliaciccarese@libero.it.
6
Department of Infectious Diseases, Sexually Transmitted Infections Clinic, Amedeo di Savoia Hospital, Turin, Italy.
7
Section of Dermatology, Department of Health Sciences, San Martino University Hospital IRCCS, University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Recently, Herpes simplex virus (HSV)-1 seroprevalence declined among adolescents, rendering young people lacking HSV-1 antibodies more susceptible to genital HSV-1 acquisition, if sexually exposed. The aim of the present study was to identify the possible risk factors for the development of HSV-1 related Herpes genitalis (HG).

METHODS:

From January 2012 to December 2015, patients with HG attending three Sexually Transmitted Infections Units in Northern Italy were recruited. A genital swab on the lesions for the search of HSV-1/2 DNA through real time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and a serum sample for HSV-1/2 specific serology were performed. Moreover, patients were asked whether they had personal history of herpes labialis (HL). Patients with PCR proved HSV-1 HG were included as cases; asymptomatic subjects attending STI Units for a blood check were recruited as controls and were checked for HSV-1/2 serology.

RESULTS:

The study included 141 cases and 70 controls. Specific HSV-1 antibodies were found in 34.7% of the cases and 67% of the controls. History of recurrent herpes labialis (RHL) was found in 4% of the cases and 31% of the controls. The occurrence of RHL in HSV-1 seropositive patients resulted lower in the case group compared to the control group.

CONCLUSIONS:

We can speculate about a protective role for RHL against the clinical appearance of HSV-1 HG. The clinical usefulness of our study involved especially the counselling in serodiscordant couples. The presence of HSV-1 antibodies in asymptomatic sexual partners does appear protective for HG manifestation only in presence of RHL history.

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