Sensitivity and specificity of herpes simplex virus-2 serological assays among HIV-infected and uninfected urban Ugandans

Int J STD AIDS. 2010 Sep;21(9):611-6. doi: 10.1258/ijsa.2009.008477.


Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) is a risk factor for HIV-1 infection. We characterized HSV-2 serology assay performance in HIV-positive and HIV-negative Africans. Serostatus for HSV-2 and HIV-1 was determined in 493 serum specimens stored from a community HSV-2 prevalence survey in Kampala, Uganda. HSV-2 serology by Focus HerpeSelect ELISA, Biokit HSV-2 rapid assay and Kalon HSV-2 was compared with HSV-2 Western blot (WB) according to HIV-1 serostatus. Sensitivity/specificity was: 99.5%/70.2% for Focus, 97.0%/86.4% for Biokit and 97.5%/96.2% for Kalon. Focus with Biokit confirmation improved sensitivity/specificity (99.4%/96.8%, respectively). Use of a higher Focus index value cut-off of 2.2 instead of 1.1 increased specificity from 70.2% to 92.4%. Kalon had higher specificity than Focus (P < 0.001). Of commercially available HSV-2 serological assays, Kalon alone, or Focus ELISA followed by Biokit confirmation perform best. Improved HSV-2 assays are needed for HSV-2 and HIV-1 public health activities in Africa.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis
  • Herpes Simplex / complications
  • Herpes Simplex / diagnosis*
  • Herpesvirus 2, Human / immunology*
  • Herpesvirus 2, Human / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay / methods
  • Male
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Uganda
  • Virology / methods*


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic