Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 Antibodies: High Prevalence in Monogamous Women in Costa Rica

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  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control, University of Costa Rica, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia
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We studied the prevalence of antibody to Herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2 (HSV-1 and HSV-2) in 766 randomly selected Costa Rican women 25–59 years of age in a national household survey in 1984–1985. Overall, 97.1% were seropositive for HSV-1 and 39.4% for HSV-2. Only 1.1% of HSV-2 seropositive women gave a history of symptomatic genital herpes. HSV-2 virus antibody increased with age and with the number of lifetime sexual partners. HSV-2 seroprevalence among women who reported only 1 lifetime sexual partner was almost twice as high as the prevalence among women who denied sexual experience (30.5% vs. 17.7%) and reached 79.2% among women with ≥4 partners. HSV-2 seroprevalence was lower among women whose partners used condoms: 28.9% for those who had used condoms for at least 2 years vs. 44.3% for those who never used condoms.