Correlates to seroprevalent herpes simplex virus type 2 among rural Appalachian drug users

Dustin B. Stephens, April M. Young, Ursula L. Mullins, Jennifer R. Havens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) is the most common cause of genital ulcer disease and, along with substance abuse, an important HIV risk factor. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine HSV-2 seroprevalence in a sample of drug users in rural Appalachia. Rural Appalachian individuals age 18 or older reporting non-medical use of prescription opioids, heroin, crack/cocaine, or methamphetamine in the past 6 months (n=499) were included. Behavioral, demographic, and sexual network data were collected using interviewer-administered questionnaires. Participants' serum was tested for HSV-2 antibodies using the Biokit rapid test (Lexington, MA). The estimated population seroprevalence of HSV-2 was 14.4% (95%CI: 9.6-19.4%). Only 8.8% were aware of being HSV-2+, and unprotected sex was reported in 80% of serodiscordant sexual relationships. In a multivariate model, female gender, age, older age at first oral sex, and frequency of unprotected sex in the sexual network were independently associated with HSV-2 seropositivity. Despite lower seroprevalence than that reported in similar studies of substance abusers, targeted interventions to reduce sexual risk behavior are warranted in this underserved population. Network-informed approaches with particular focus on women, older individuals, and those engaging in frequent unprotected sex are recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)512-520
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Medical Virology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


  • Drug use
  • Genital herpes
  • HIV risk
  • HSV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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