Historical correlates of genital herpes simplex virus type 2 infection in men attending an STD clinic

Academic Article


  • Background/objectives: While nearly one in four Americans has antibodies to HSV-2, only one of 40 reports a history of genital herpes (GH). The goal of this study was to correlate questions designed to elicit a GH history with serological evidence of HSV-2 in male STD clinic attendees. Methods: Consecutive males were enrolled in a study of the epidemiology of GH. Consenting men answered questionnaires regarding their histories of possible GH and underwent serological testing for HSV-1 and HSV-2. Association statistics between response to each question and HSV-2 serological status were calculated. Results: Of 328 men enrolled, 148 (46%) had HSV-2 antibodies. 14 (4.3%) reported a history of GH when queried as part of a list of other STD (sensitivity (S) 0.08). 17 (5.2%) reported a history of GH when asked directly "Do you have genital herpes?" (S 0.09). 75 (21.1%) participants reported a history of a recurring genital sore, ulcer, or zipper cut (S 0.32). Overall, 64.2% of HSV-2 seropositive men answered "no" to all three questions. A "yes" response to any of the questions was only 36% sensitive for predicting HSV-2 infection. Conclusion: Few HSV-2 infected men report either a history of GH or are aware that they are infected. Asking about a history of recurrent genital sores was a more sensitive historical marker of HSV-2 infection than asking about a history of "genital herpes.".
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Sizemore JM; Lakeman F; Whitley R; Hughes A; Hook EW
  • Start Page

  • 303
  • End Page

  • 305
  • Volume

  • 81
  • Issue

  • 4