Herpes simplex virus viremia during primary genital infection

J Infect Dis. 2008 Jul 1;198(1):31-4. doi: 10.1086/588676.


Primary genital herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection is commonly associated with systemic symptoms. A systematic evaluation of HSV viremia during primary genital infection has not been performed previously. Plasma samples from adults with a first clinical episode of genital HSV infection were assayed for HSV DNA by polymerase chain reaction. One hundred sixty-four adults had confirmed primary genital HSV infection. Of these, 40 (24%) had HSV DNA detected in plasma. Thirty-seven (93%) of 40 were infected with HSV-2. Viremic participants were more likely to be women, compared with aviremic participants (83% vs. 61%; P=.01). Viremia was detected more frequently and at a higher number of copies per milliliter early in infection. We conclude that HSV viremia during primary genital HSV infection is common, especially among women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • DNA, Viral / blood
  • Female
  • Herpes Genitalis / blood
  • Herpes Genitalis / epidemiology
  • Herpes Genitalis / virology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Time Factors
  • Viremia / blood
  • Viremia / epidemiology*
  • Viremia / virology


  • DNA, Viral