Background: In addition to protecting against HIV acquisition, antiretroviral preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) using topical 1% tenofovir gel reduced Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) acquisition by 51% among women in the CAPRISA 004 study. We examined the effect of daily oral emtricitabine/tenofovir (FTC/TDF) PrEP on HSV-2 seroincidence and ulcer occurrence among men who have sex with men (MSM) in the iPrEx trial.
Methods: HSV-2 serum testing was performed at screening and every six months. Among HSV-2-seronegative individuals, we used Cox regression models to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) of HSV-2 seroincidence associated with randomization to FTC/TDF. We used multiple imputation and Cox regression to estimate HRs for HSV-2 seroincidence accounting for drug exposure. We assessed ulcer occurrence among participants with prevalent or incident HSV-2 infection.
Results: Of the 2,499 participants, 1383 (55.3%) tested HSV-2-seronegative at baseline, 892 (35.7%) tested positive, 223 (8.9%) had indeterminate tests, and one test was not done. Of the 1,347 HSV-2-seronegative participants with follow-up, 125 (9.3%) had incident HSV-2 infection (5.9 per 100 person-years). Compared with participants receiving placebo, there was no difference in HSV-2 seroincidence among participants receiving FTC/TDF (HR 1.1, 95% CI: 0.8-1.5; P = 0.64) or among participants receiving FTC/TDF with a concentration of tenofovir diphosphate >16 per million viable cells (HR 1.0, 95% CI: 0.3-3.5; P = 0.95). Among participants with HSV-2 infection, the proportion with ≥1 moderate or severe ulcer adverse event was twice as high in the placebo vs. active arm (5.9% vs. 2.9%, P = 0.02), but there were no differences in the proportions with ≥1 clinical examination during which perianal or groin ulcers were identified.
Conclusions: Tenofovir in daily oral FTC/TDF PrEP may reduce the occurrence of ulcers in individuals with HSV-2 infection but does not protect against HSV-2 incidence among MSM.