Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) is one of the most prevalent sexually transmitted infections, and it increases the risk of transmission of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 at least twofold. Individual-level factors are insufficient to explain geographic and population variation in HSV-2, suggesting the need to identify ecologic factors. The authors sought to determine the geographic prevalence and community-level factors associated with HSV-2 after controlling for individual-level factors among slums in Chennai, India. From March to June 2001, participants aged 18-40 years voluntarily completed a survey and were tested for HSV-2. Community characteristics were assessed through interviews with key informants and other secondary data sources. Multilevel nonlinear analysis was conducted. Eighty-five percent of eligible persons completed the survey; of these, 98% underwent HSV-2 testing, producing a final sample of 1,275. Participants were of Tamil ethnicity, were predominantly female and married, and were on average 30 years old. Fifteen percent were infected with HSV-2, and there was significant variation in HSV-2 prevalence among communities. After controlling for individual-level factors, the authors identified community-level factors, including socioeconomic status and the presence of injection drug users, that were independently associated with HSV-2 and explained 11% of the variance in prevalence. Future studies are needed to test mechanisms through which these community-level factors may be operating.
ASJC Scopus subject areas