Objectives: Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) biomarkers are often used in adolescent sub-Saharan HIV prevention studies, but evaluations of test performance and disclosure outcomes are rare in the published literature. Therefore, we investigated the proportion of ELISA-positive and indeterminate samples confirmed by western blot (WB), the psychosocial response to disclosure and whether reports of sexual behaviour and HSV-2 symptoms are consistent with WB confirmatory results among adolescent orphans in Kenya.
Methods: In 2011, 837 Kenyan orphan youth in grades 7 and 8 enrolled in an HIV prevention clinical trial with HSV-2 biomarker outcomes. We used a modified algorithm for the Kalon HSV-2 ELISA to improve specificity; positive and indeterminate results were WB tested. We developed culturally sensitive protocols for disclosing positive results, and documented psychosocial responses, reports of sexual contact and HSV-2 symptoms.
Results: 28 adolescents (3.3%) were identified as HSV-2 seropositive, six as indeterminate. Of these, 22 positive and all indeterminates were WB tested; 20 and 5, respectively, were confirmed positive. Most youth reported moderate brief stress after disclosure; 22% reported longer and more severe distress. Boys were more likely to be in the latter category. Self-reported virginity was highly inconsistent with WB-confirmed positives.
Conclusions: The higher than manufacturer's cut-off for Kalon ELISA modestly reduced the rate of false-positive test results, but also increased false negatives. Investigators should consider the risk:benefit ratio in deciding whether or not to disclose HSV-2 results to adolescent participants under specific field conditions.
Trial registration number: NCT01501864.
Keywords: ADOLESCENT; AFRICA; HERPES SIMPLEX (CLINICAL); SEROLOGY.
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