Substantial proportions of new HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa are associated with herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) infection hence the magnitude of infection in the population suggests the expected course of HIV epidemic. We determined prevalence of genital herpes as a result of HSV-2 and its associated factors among pregnant women in Nigeria.
A total of 2,362 sera of pregnant women aged 18-49 years attending two different antenatal clinics in two communities in Nigeria were analysed using ELISA specific for IgG antibodies to HSV-2 (Kalon Biological Ltd, U.K). HIV antibodies were screened using sequential algorithm of rapid HIV tests.
Prevalence of genital herpes was 38.8% (95% CI: 36.8-40.7%). HSV-2 was associated with first time pregnancy, high maternal age and age of sex partner in this study. 264 women (11.2%) had current symptomatic genital ulceration. Odds of HSV-2 sero-positivity was 6 times higher in HIV-sero-positive than sero-negative women (76.3% vs. 34.9%, p < 0.001). This remained significant after controlling for age, education, marital status and religion. Among HIV-sero-positive women, low CD4 and current genital ulcerative disease (GUD) were associated with higher HSV-2 prevalence.
HSV-2 was highly prevalent; few women had prior or current GUD. Treatment of HSV-2 in populations like pregnant women would be among approaches towards preventing and managing HIV infections.