Objectives: Genital ulcer disease (GUD) prevalence increases in the first month of antiretroviral treatment (ART), followed by a return to baseline prevalence by month 3. Since most GUD is caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), we hypothesized that genital HSV detection would follow a similar pattern after treatment initiation.
Methods: We conducted a prospective cohort study of 122 HSV-2 and HIV-1 co-infected women with advanced HIV disease who initiated ART and were followed closely with collection of genital swab specimens for the first three months of treatment.
Results: At baseline, the HSV detection rate was 32%, without significant increase in genital HSV detection noted during the first month or the third month of ART. HIV-1 shedding declined during this period; no association was also noted between HSV and HIV-1 shedding during this period.
Conclusion: Because other studies have reported increased HSV detection in women initiating ART and we have previously reported an increase in GUD during early ART, it may be prudent to counsel HIV-1 infected women initiating ART that HSV shedding in the genital tract may continue after ART initiation.