Open Access Research article

Seroprevalence and factors associated with herpes simplex virus type 2 among HIV-negative high-risk men who have sex with men from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: a cross-sectional study

Junia Rodrigues1, Beatriz Grinsztejn1*, Francisco I Bastos2, Luciane Velasque1, Paula M Luz1, Claudia TV de Souza1, Ingebourg Georg1, Jose H Pilotto1 and Valdilea G Veloso1

Author Affiliations

1 Instituto de Pesquisa Clínica Evandro Chagas (IPEC), Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

2 Instituto de Comunicação e Informação Científica e Tecnológica em Saúde (ICICT), Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2009, 9:39  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-9-39

Published: 1 April 2009



Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) is the leading cause of genital ulcer disease in developing countries, including Brazil, and is especially prevalent among men who have sex with men (MSM). HSV-2 infection represents a risk factor for the acquisition and transmission of other sexually transmitted diseases. The goal of the present cross-sectional study was to estimate HSV-2 seroprevalence and to determine the factors associated with HSV-2 seropositivity in HIV-negative high-risk MSM from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


Stored sera were tested to estimate HSV-2 seroprevalence, while socio-demographic and sexual behavior data were used to measure associations between risk factors and HSV-2 seropositivity. Using the Poisson regression model with robust variance, prevalence ratios (PR) were used to estimate de degree of association between risk factors and HSV-2 seropositivity in bivariate and multivariate analyses.


Seroprevalence of HSV-2 was of 45.7% (184 out of 403). Factors independently associated with HSV-2 seroprevalence in the multivariate model were: older age (≥ 26 years, PR: 1.41 95% Confidence Interval: 1.11–1.78), non-white race (PR: 1.32 95%CI: 1.06–1.64), positive serology for syphilis (PR: 1.65 95%CI: 1.33–2.05), positive serology for hepatitis B (PR: 1.25 95%CI: 0.99–1.57), stable male partner in the past 6 months (PR: 1.42 95%CI: 1.12–1.79), and unprotected anal sex with a stable female partner (PR: 1.46 95%CI: 1.05–2.04) in the 6 months preceding the cross-sectional assessment.


The present study made evident a high prevalence of HSV-2 infection in a sample of HIV-negative high-risk MSM from Rio de Janeiro. This finding indicates the need and urgency for implementing integrated programs for the prevention of HSV-2 and other sexually transmitted diseases, and, in particular, programs targeting high-risk MSM.