Background: While population-based seroprevalence studies of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and type 2 (HSV-2) are widespread, seroincidence studies are largely limited to select or high-risk populations. The US military offers a potential population to derive national seroincidence rate estimates for young adults (ages 18-29).
Methods: We used banked, longitudinal serum specimens collected in a cohort of 1094 military personnel aged 18 to 30 years who served between 1989 and 2005 to estimate national HSV-1 and HSV-2 seroincidence and seroprevalence for the young, adult military population, weighted according to the US Census. Serum was tested with indirect ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay).
Results: Estimated national seroincidence rates for the US young, adult military population were 9.1 per 100 person-years (95% confidence interval: 4.6-13.5) for HSV-1 and 6.2 (95% confidence interval: 3.1-9.3) for HSV-2. Female sex and black race were associated with significantly higher HSV-2 seroconversion rates. Our estimated HSV1/2 seroprevalences were comparable to US national data provided by National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys' serosurveys except for non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics.
Conclusion: Although these US 2000 Census-weighted estimates of HSV-1 and HSV-2 seroincidence apply only to young, military adults, they nonetheless supply, to our knowledge, the only national figures that might be used to predict US national HSV1/2 seroincidence in young adults. Thus, we believe that our findings in this military population can be used to inform the planning of HSV-1 and 2 prevention measures in the general, young-adult US population.