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Arch Fam Med. 1995 Mar;4(3):228-32.

Seroprevalence of herpes simplex virus infections in a family medicine clinic.

Author information

1
Department of Family Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To determine the prevalence of herpes simplex virus (HSV) antibody in a general medical practice setting and to assess the frequency of subclinical infection.

DESIGN:

Prevalence study.

SETTING:

A family practice clinic at the University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle.

PARTICIPANTS:

Five hundred randomly selected patients between the ages of 18 and 45 years.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Serum samples were tested by Western blot assay to detect the presence of antibody to HSV type 1 (HSV-1) and HSV-2. Demographic information and clinical history of oral and genital herpes were obtained.

RESULTS:

One hundred fourteen patients (23%) were seropositive for HSV-2 antibody, 277 patients (56%) were seropositive for HSV-1 antibody, 59 patients (12%) were seropositive for both HSV-2 and HSV-1 antibodies, and 163 patients (33%) were seronegative for both. Women were almost twice as likely as men to be seropositive for HSV-2 antibody (28% vs 15%, P < .001). Blacks had the highest rates of HSV-2 antibody seropositivity (60%) compared with whites (20%) and Asians (6%) (P < .001). Other demographic correlates of seropositivity included being older, having fewer years of education, and having public insurance. The specificity of a clinical history of genital herpes or sores for HSV-2 infection was high (99%), but the sensitivity was low (27%).

CONCLUSIONS:

Herpes simplex virus infection is common among patients seeking primary care. Women, blacks, and patients of lower socioeconomic status are most likely to be seropositive for HSV-2 antibody. The high frequency of unrecognized HSV infection has implications for primary care physicians in counseling patients regarding HSV infection and transmission.

PMID:
7881604
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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