Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) is a common sexually transmitted disease, but there is limited data on its epidemiology among urban populations. The urban Emergency Department (ED) is a potential venue for surveillance as it predominantly serves an inner city minority population. We evaluate the seroprevalence and factors associated with HSV-2 infection among patients attending the Johns Hopkins Hospital Adult Emergency Department (JHH ED).
An identity unlinked-serosurvey was conducted between 6/2007 and 9/2007 in the JHH ED; sera were tested by the Focus HerpeSelect ELISA. Prevalence risk ratios (PRR) were used to determine factors associated with HSV-2 infection.
Of 3,408 serum samples, 1,853 (54.4%) were seropositive for HSV-2. Females (adjPRR = 1.47, 95% CI 1.38–1.56), non-Hispanic blacks (adjPRR = 2.03, 95% CI 1.82–2.27), single (adjPRR = 1.15, 95% CI 1.07–1.25), divorced (adjPRR = 1.28, 95% CI 1.15–1.41), and unemployed patients (adjPRR = 1.13, 95% CI 1.05–1.21) had significantly higher rates of HSV-2 infection. Though certain zip codes had significantly higher seroprevalence of HSV-2, this effect was completely attenuated when controlling for age and gender.
Seroprevalence of HSV-2 in the JHH ED was higher than U.S. national estimates; however, factors associated with HSV-2 infection were similar. The high seroprevalence of HSV-2 in this urban ED highlights the need for targeted testing and treatment. Cross-sectional serosurveys in the urban ED may help to examine the epidemiology of HSV-2.