Herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2 in the Netherlands: seroprevalence, risk factors and changes during a 12-year period

Petra J Woestenberg, Jeroen H T Tjhie, Hester E de Melker, Fiona R M van der Klis, Jan E A M van Bergen, Marianne A B van der Sande, Birgit H B van Benthem

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review

17 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: Genital herpes results in considerable morbidity, including risk of neonatal herpes, and is increasingly being caused by Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) type 1. Possibly children are less often HSV-1 infected, leaving them susceptible until sexual debut. We assessed changes in the Dutch HSV-1 and HSV-2 seroprevalence over time and determinants associated with HSV seropositivity.

METHODS: We used data from two population-based seroepidemiological studies conducted in 1995-6 and 2006-7 with a similar study design. Serum samples of 6 months to 44-year-old participants were tested for type-specific HSV antibodies using HerpesSelect® with a cut-off level of >1.10 for seropositivity. Age and sex-specific HSV-1 and HSV-2 seroprevalence was weighted for the Dutch population. Logistic regression was performed to investigate determinants associated with HSV seropositivity.

RESULTS: Overall, weighted HSV-1 seroprevalence was significantly lower in 2006-7 [42.7 % 95 % confidence interval (CI) 39.9-45.4] than in 1995-6 (47.7 % 95 % CI 44.8-50.7), especially among 10- to 14-year-olds. Overall, weighted HSV-2 seroprevalence remained stable: 6.8 % in 1995-6 and 6.0 % in 2006-7. Adults who ever had sexual intercourse were more often seropositive for HSV-1 [adjusted Odds Ratio (aOR) 1.69 95 % CI 1.33-2.16] and HSV-2 (aOR 2.35 95 % CI 1.23-4.52). Age at sexual debut was the only sexual risk determinant associated with HSV-1 seropositivity.

CONCLUSIONS: Because of the lower HSV-1 seroprevalence in 2006-7 compared to 1995-6, more adults are susceptible to genital HSV-1, including women of reproductive age. Given the higher risk of neonatal herpes when HSV is acquired during pregnancy, prevention and control measures during pregnancy also targeting HSV-1, are important.

Original languageEnglish
Article number364
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Herpes Genitalis/epidemiology
  • Herpes Simplex/epidemiology
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human/immunology
  • Herpesvirus 2, Human/immunology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Netherlands/epidemiology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious/epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Young Adult


Dive into the research topics of 'Herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2 in the Netherlands: seroprevalence, risk factors and changes during a 12-year period'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this