Open Access Research article

Population-based seroprevalence of HSV-2 and syphilis in Andhra Pradesh state of India

John A Schneider12*, Vemu Lakshmi3, Rakhi Dandona456, G Anil Kumar45, Talasila Sudha3 and Lalit Dandona4567

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

2 Department of Health Studies, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

3 Department of Microbiology, Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences, Hyderabad, India

4 Public Health Foundation of India, New Delhi, India

5 George Institute for International Health - India, Hyderabad, India

6 School of Public Health and George Institute for International Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

7 Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2010, 10:59  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-59

Published: 9 March 2010



Understanding the prevalence and risk factors for common causes of ulcerative genital disease in the general population would inform current STI syndromic management and HIV testing strategies in high HIV prevalence regions of India.


Persons 15-49 years old from 32 rural and 34 urban clusters were sampled using a stratified random method to represent adults in the high HIV prevalence Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh state. Interviews were conducted and dry blood spots were collected on 12,617 study participants. Testing for HSV-2 and syphilis was performed.


Adjusted HSV-2 and syphilis seroprevalence rates were 4.70% and 2.08% for men and 7.07% and 1.42% for women. For men, tattooing, >3 lifetime sex partners, tobacco use, and sex with men in the past 6 months were associated with HSV-2 or syphilis (ORs, 1.66-2.95, p < 0.05). Male circumcision was positively associated with HSV-2 infection (OR, 1.37, p = 0.028) though this could be due to residual confounding. In women, greater than one lifetime partner remained significantly associated with HSV-2 in multivariate analysis (OR, 2.61; 95% CI, 1.39-4.87). Among all behavioral risk factors and other covariates in women and men, HIV infection exhibited the strongest association with HSV-2 and syphilis (ORs, 8.2-14.2, p < 0.001). The proportion of individuals with HSV-2 who were HIV infected was less than the proportion with syphilis who were HIV infected (11.8% vs. 22.7%; p = 0.001).


Nearly one in four persons surveyed in this population-based study that were seroprevalent for syphilis, were also HIV infected. Common population risk factors for syphilis, HSV-2 and HIV and high rates of co-seroprevalence suggest that HIV testing, STI testing and service strategies for these would benefit from direct linkage in India.