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How safe is safer sex? High levels of HSV-1 and HSV-2 in female sex workers in London

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 March 2006

J. FOX
Affiliation:
Department of Genitourinary Medicine and Infectious Disease, Imperial College London, UK
G. P. TAYLOR
Affiliation:
Department of Genitourinary Medicine and Infectious Disease, Imperial College London, UK
S. DAY
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, Goldsmith's College, University of London, UK
J. PARRY
Affiliation:
Sexually Transmitted and Bloodborne Virus Laboratory, Health Protection Agency, London, UK
H. WARD
Affiliation:
Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College London, UK
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Abstract

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Female sex workers in Europe have low levels of sexually transmitted infections, attributable to condom use. The aim of this paper is to describe the seroepidemiology of HSV-1 and HSV-2 in female sex workers in London by using a 15-year prospective study of 453 sex workers. The seroprevalence of HSV-1 was 74·4% and independently associated with birth in a ‘transitional country’ (OR 5·4, 95% CI 1·61–18·20). The seroprevalence of HSV-2 was 60% and declined over time; it was also independently associated with time in sex work (OR 2·12, 95% CI 1·23–3·65) and birth in a ‘developing country’ (OR 2·95, 95% CI 1·34–6·48). We show that a cohort of sex workers with extensive condom use and little known sexually transmitted infection have high levels of HSV-1 and HSV-2 infection, suggesting that condoms may not be universally protective. Sex workers are candidates for HSV vaccine efficacy or intervention studies.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
2006 Cambridge University Press