Bradley J, Floyd S, Piwowar-Manning E, Laeyendecker O, Young A, Bell-Mandla N, Bwalya J, Bock P, Fidler S, Ayles H, Hayes RJ, HPTN 071 Study Team, HPTN 071 (PopART) Study Team. Sexually Transmitted Bedfellows: Exquisite Association Between HIV and Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 in 21 Communities in Southern Africa in the HIV Prevention Trials Network 071 (PopART) Study. J Infect Dis. 2018, 218: 443-452. PMC6049005
Background: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV2) are strongly associated, although mechanisms are not fully understood. An HIV prevention trial allowed reexamination of this association at individual and community levels. Methods: The HIV Prevention Trials Network 071 (PopART) study evaluates a combination prevention intervention in 21 urban communities in Zambia and South Africa. To measure impact on HIV infection incidence, a cohort of approximately 2000 adults (age range, 18-44 years) was selected randomly from each community. Baseline data on sociodemographic characteristics, behavior, and HIV/HSV2 serologic findings were used to examine the association between HIV and HSV2. At the community level, HIV prevalence was plotted against HSV2 prevalence. Results: A total of 38691 adults participated. HSV2 prevalence among women and men was 50% and 22%, respectively, in Zambia and 60% and 27%, respectively, in South Africa. Estimated HSV2 infection incidence among those aged 18-24 years was 8.06 cases/100 person-years (95% confidence interval [CI], 6.76-9.35) and 1.76 cases/100 person-years (95% CI, 1.30-2.22) among women and men, respectively. A 6-fold higher odds of HIV infection was seen in HSV2-infected individuals in both sexes, after adjustment for confounders (odds ratio, 6.66 [95% CI, 6.07-7.31] among women and 6.57 [95% CI, 5.56-7.77] among men). At the community-level, there was a strong linear relationship between HIV and HSV2 prevalence (rho = 0.92; P < .001). Conclusions: There was an exquisite association between these 2 infections, at the individual and community levels, likely due in part to a powerful cofactor effect of HSV2 on HIV transmission. HSV2 control could contribute to HIV prevention.