Background: Herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2 (HSV-1 and HSV-2) are common infections with serious sequelae. HSV-1 is an increasingly important cause of genital herpes in industrialized countries.
Methods: Using nationally representative data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), we examined HSV-1 and HSV-2 seroprevalence among 14- to 49-year-olds in the United States. We estimated seroprevalence in 1999-2004 and 2005-2010, stratified by sociodemographic characteristics and sexual behaviors. We also reviewed HSV-1 and HSV-2 seroprevalence from 1976-1980 to 2005-2010.
Results: In 2005-2010, the seroprevalence of HSV-1 was 53.9%, and the seroprevalence of HSV-2 was 15.7%. From 1999-2004 to 2005-2010, HSV-1 seroprevalence declined by nearly 7% (P < .01), but HSV-2 seroprevalence did not change significantly. The largest decline in HSV-1 seroprevalence from 1999-2004 to 2005-2010 was observed among adolescents aged 14-19 years, among whom seroprevalence declined by nearly 23%, from 39.0% to 30.1% (P < .01). In this age group, HSV-1 seroprevalence declined >29% from 1976-1980 to 2005-2010 (P < .01).
Conclusions: An increasing number of adolescents lack HSV-1 antibodies at sexual debut. In the absence of declines in HSV-2 infections, the prevalence of genital herpes may increase.
Keywords: HSV-1; HSV-2; NHANES; adolescents; genital herpes; herpes simplex virus.