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Epidemiology of Herpes Simplex Virus in Europe Transitioning

Oral acquisition in childhood is declining; proportion of HSV-1 detection in genital herpes is rising

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WEDNESDAY, July 22, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- The epidemiology of herpes simplex virus (HSV)-1 is transitioning away from oral acquisition in childhood with an increasing proportion of HSV-1 detection in genital herpes, according to a study published online July 16 in BMJ Global Health.

Wajiha Yousuf, from Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar in Doha, and colleagues conducted a systematic review, meta-analyses, and meta-regressions to profile the epidemiology of HSV-1 in Europe. Data were extracted from 142 relevant records with 179 overall seroprevalence measures, four overall proportions of HSV-1 in genital ulcer disease, and 64 overall proportions of HSV-1 in genital herpes.

The researchers found that the pooled mean seroprevalence was 67.4 percent, with 32.5 percent of children and 74.4 percent of adults infected. With age, there was a steady increase seen in pooled seroprevalence, from 39.3 percent in those aged <20 years to 82.9 percent among those aged >50 years. There was an annual decrease noted in pooled seroprevalence by 0.99-fold. The pooled mean proportion of HSV-1 detection was 13.6, 34.1, and 49.3 percent in genital ulcer disease, genital herpes, and first episode genital herpes, respectively. In genital herpes, the pooled proportion of HSV-1 detection increased yearly by 1.01-fold, with higher detection in women than men (42.0 versus 24.1 percent).

"These findings highlight the importance of disease surveillance and monitoring of HSV-1 seroprevalence and genital herpes etiology, and strengthen the case for a HSV-1 vaccine to limit transmission," the authors write.

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