Bulletin of the World Health Organization
Print version ISSN 0042-9686
LOOKER, Katharine J; GARNETT, Geoffrey P and SCHMID, George P. An estimate of the global prevalence and incidence of herpes simplex virus type 2 infection. Bull World Health Organ [online]. 2008, vol.86, n.10, pp.805-812A. ISSN 0042-9686. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0042-96862008001000017.
OBJECTIVE: To estimate the global prevalence and incidence of herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) infection in 2003. METHODS: A systematic review was undertaken of published seroprevalence surveys describing the prevalence or incidence of HSV-2 by age and gender. For each of 12 regions, pooled prevalence values by age and gender were generated in a random-effect model. HSV-2 incidence was then estimated from these pooled values using a constant-incidence model. Values of the HSV-2 seroprevalence from the model fits were applied to the total population to estimate the numbers of people infected. FINDINGS: The total number of people aged 15-49 years who were living with HSV-2 infection worldwide in 2003 is estimated to be 536 million, while the total number of people who were newly infected with HSV-2 in 2003 is estimated to be 23.6 million. While the estimates are limited by poor availability of data, general trends are evident. For example, more women than men were infected, and the number infected increased with age. Although prevalence varied substantially by region, predicted prevalence was mostly higher in developing regions than developed regions. CONCLUSION: The prevalence of HSV-2 is relatively easy to measure since infection is lifelong and has a specific serological test. The burden of disease is less easy to quantify. Despite the often sparse data on which these estimates are based, it is clear that HSV-2 infection is widespread. The dramatic differences in prevalence between regions are worthy of further exploration.