This retrospective cohort study is to investigate the association between herpes simplex virus (HSV) infections and dementia, and the effects of anti-herpetic medications on the risk involved, using Taiwan's National Health Insurance Research Database (NHIRD). We enrolled a total of 33,448 subjects, and identified 8362 with newly diagnosed HSV infections and 25,086 randomly selected sex- and age-matched controls without HSV infections in a ratio of 1:3, selected from January 1, to December 31, 2000. A multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression model was used to evaluate the risk of developing dementia in the HSV cohort. This analysis revealed an adjusted hazard ratio of 2.564 (95% CI: 2.351-2.795, P < 0.001) for the development of dementia in the HSV-infected cohort relative to the non-HSV cohort. Thus, patients with HSV infections may have a 2.56-fold increased risk of developing dementia. A risk reduction of dementia development in patients affected by HSV infections was found upon treatment with anti-herpetic medications (adjusted HR = 0.092 [95% CI 0.079-0.108], P < 0.001). The usage of anti-herpetic medications in the treatment of HSV infections was associated with a decreased risk of dementia. These findings could be a signal to clinicians caring for patients with HSV infections. Further research is, therefore, necessary to explore the underlying mechanism(s) of these associations.
Keywords: Anti-herpetic medications; Cohort study; Dementia; Herpes simplex virus; National Health Insurance Research Database.