Introduction To determine the prevalence and correlates of Herpes Simplex Virus-2 (HSV-2) and syphilis infections in the general population in India.
Methods 2456 adults were surveyed in Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chandigarh in India. Socio-demographic and lifestyle characteristics were obtained through a questionnaire, and a dried blood spot (DBS) was collected from all individuals aged 18 and over; sexual behaviour was collected from those aged 18e49 years. DBS samples were tested for HSV-2 and syphilis serology. The association between HSV-2 and syphilis infections with socio-demographic and behavioural variables was analysed using multivariable logistic regression.
Results The prevalence of HSV-2 and syphilis was 10.1% and 1.7%, respectively. Urban/rural differences in prevalence were only seen for syphilis. For both infections, the prevalence between males and females was not significantly different. In males and females, HSV-2 prevalence increased significantly with increasing age; for syphilis, a slight trend was seen only in females. In a multivariable analysis, HSV-2 infection in males and females was associated with site, religion and testing positive for syphilis, in addition to reporting $2 lifetime partners in the previous year among males and being ever married or having had sex with a non-regular partner in the last year among females.
Conclusions The burden and geographic heterogeneity of HSV-2 and syphilis infections in India are significant. A national household and DBS-based sexually transmitted infection (STI) surveillance system would enable monitoring, especially in relation to the HIV epidemic, and planning of evidence-based prevention and treatment programmes.
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