Herpes simplex virus seroprevalence among children, adolescents and adults in Greece

Int J STD AIDS 2008;19:272-278
© 2008 Royal Society of Medicine Press


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Original research articles

H Papadogeorgakis MD PhD * ,
C Caroni PhD ,
A Katsambas MD * ,
J M Pimenta PhD ,
C Avdeliodi MD **,
T Kotrotsou MD ,
E Frangoulis MD PhD *  and
J S Smith PhD MPH  

* Department of Microbiology;
Department of Dermatology, ‘A. Sygros’ Dermatology Hospital, University of Athens;
Department of Mathematics, National Technical University of Athens, Athens, Greece;
Worldwide Epidemiology, GlaxoSmithKline, Greenford, UK;
** ‘H. Venizelos’ Maternity Hospital;
‘Agia Sophia’ University Children’s Hospital, Athens, Greece;
Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina, NC, USA

Correspondence to: Dr Jennifer S Smith, Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA Email: JenniferS{at}unc.edu

The aim was to study the type-specific seroprevalence of Herpessimplex virus (HSV)-1 and HSV-2 infections and the associatedrisk factors in children, adolescents and adults in Greece.A total of 1867 serum samples from children, adolescents andadults of both genders aged from 0 to 60 years were collectedfrom three large hospital-referral centres in Athens. All serawere tested for type-specific antibodies to HSV-1 and HSV-2using HerpeSelect IgG ELISA tests (Focus Diagnostics Cypress,Cal, USA). Overall age-adjusted seroprevalence of HSV-1 andHSV-2 was 72.0% and 10.2%, respectively. HSV-1 seropositivitywas low in children up to nine years of age, increased sharplyin adolescence, and was higher in females than males in eachgroup surveyed. HSV-2 seropositivity was low (0.8%) below 20years of age and increased to a maximum prevalence of 18.7%in men and 22.7% in women. Multivariate risk factor analysesindicated that HSV-1 seropositivity was associated with socioeconomicindicators (e.g. lower educational level, residency outsidegreater Athens), whereas HSV-2 was associated with sexual behaviouralfactors (e.g. being divorced, greater number of lifetime sexualpartners). HSV-2 risk factor profiles were similar in womenand in men. This first large seroprevalence study in Greeceshowed a high age-standardized HSV-1 seropositivity after adolescenceand a relatively low age-standardized HSV-2 seroprevalence frombirth to 60 years of age. Dual seropositivity to HSV-1 and HSV-2was low (0.6%) in females under 20 years of age, suggestingthat the potential use of an HSV-2 prophylactic vaccine in adolescentscould reduce the spread of HSV-2 infection.

Key Words: Herpes simplex virus • seroprevalence • risk factors • Greece

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