South Africa: Huge Herpes Infections in Women With HIV

This article was reported by Health-e.

Health-e reported that for the first time, the South African annual antenatal HIV survey tested pregnant women for herpes simplex virus (HSV). According to the 2012 National Antenatal Sentinel HIV and HSV-2 Prevalence Survey, approximately 90 percent of HIV-positive pregnant women are coinfected with HSV. Tests on approximately 19,000 women from Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Western and Northern capes showed an average 55.8-percent HSV infection rate.

The results showed an HSV prevalence of approximately 90 percent among HIV-positive women compared with 42.5 percent in HIV-negative women. The HSV infection rate increased according to age so that fewer than one-third (28.4 percent) of 15-19-year-old women were infected, compared with two-thirds (64.6 percent) of 25-29-year olds. Of the 24 women ages 45-49 tested, nine out of 10 had HSV. Health Director General Precious Matsoso commented that for the first time, the health department had assessed other risk exposure factors for HIV by testing women for HSV, which is considered a "significant co-factor for HIV transmission."

Results also showed that HIV infection remained stable for pregnant women at 29.5 percent as in 2011 and was highest (42.8 percent) among 30-34-year-old-women. One district in KwaZulu-Natal and another in Mpumalanga had the worst HIV rates, and eight of the 10 worst affected districts are in KwaZulu-Natal. However, the disease showed a slight decrease among younger pregnant women ages 15-29, and one district had a dramatic decrease of 6 percent in a single year, from 41 percent to 35 percent.