Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 Seroprevalence and Ultrasound-Diagnosed Uterine Fibroids in a Large Population of Young African-American Women

Am J Epidemiol. 2016 Jun 1;183(11):961-8. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwv313. Epub 2016 May 8.


For decades reproductive tract infections (RTIs) have been hypothesized to play a role in uterine fibroid development. The few previous studies conducted used self-reported history of RTIs and had inconsistent findings. We investigated this hypothesis further using serological analysis, an immunological measure of past exposure. We focused on herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) because prior published data have suggested a possible association with fibroids, and serology for HSV-2 is much more sensitive than self-report. We used cross-sectional enrollment data from African-American women enrolled in a prospective study of fibroid incidence and growth (recruited 2010-2012) in the Detroit, Michigan, area. The women were aged 23-34 years and were screened for fibroids using a standardized ultrasound examination at their enrollment. Age- and multivariable-adjusted logistic regression models were used to estimate odds ratios. Of 1,696 participants, 1,658 had blood samples and HSV-2 serology results; 22% of participants with serology results had fibroids. There was no significant association between HSV-2 seropositivity and the presence of fibroids (multivariable-adjusted odds ratio = 0.94, 95% confidence interval: 0.73, 1.20), nor were there any associations with size of the largest fibroid, number of fibroids, or total fibroid volume. Our data provide no evidence for an influence of HSV-2 exposure on fibroid risk in young African-American women. Further study of other serologically measured RTIs is warranted.

Keywords: herpes simplex virus type 2; seroprevalence; uterine fibroids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / ethnology
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Black or African American*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Herpes Simplex / ethnology*
  • Herpesvirus 2, Human*
  • Humans
  • Leiomyoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Leiomyoma / ethnology*
  • Michigan / epidemiology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Sexual Behavior / ethnology


  • Antibodies, Viral