Prevalence and factors associated with HSV-2 and hepatitis B infections among truck drivers crossing the southern Brazilian border

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Abstract

Objectives

The authors estimate the prevalence of HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B virus (HBV) and herpes simplex virus type-2 (HSV-2) infection and correlates of HBV and HSV-2 infection among truck drivers crossing the southern Brazilian border at Foz do Iguaçu.

Methods

Between October 2003 and March 2005, 1945 truck drivers were sampled while accessing voluntary counselling and testing services; 1833 (94.2%) were tested for HIV (ELISA and confirmatory immunofluorescence assay) and syphilis (non-treponemal (VDRL) and treponemal tests (FTA-ABS)). From these, 799 stored sera were tested for HSV-2 (type-specific ELISA test for detection of IgG) and HBV (core antibodies (anti-HBc) with positives tested for surface antigen (HBsAg)). The authors estimate HIV, syphilis, HSV-2 and HBV prevalence and determine socio-demographic and behavioural correlates of HSV-2 infection and HBV exposure.

Results

HIV prevalence was 0.3% (95% CI 0.1 to 0.6) and syphilis 4.5% (95% CI 3.6 to 5.4). Among those tested for HBV and HSV-2, 32.3% (95% CI 28.9 to 35.6) had serological evidence of exposure to HBV and 26.6% (95% CI 23.5 to 29.7) tested positive for HSV-2. Factors independently associated with HBV exposure included increasing age, Brazilian nationality and unprotected anal sex. Increasing age and reporting an unknown number of lifetime partners were associated with HSV-2 infection.

Conclusions

In this sample of truck drivers in southern Brazil, HIV prevalence was lower than national population estimates; exposure to HBV was higher than population estimates, while per cent positive for HSV-2 was similar to population estimates. The low prevalence of HIV in truck drivers indicates prevention successes; however, future HIV prevention programming should incorporate HBV vaccination and sexually transmitted infection prevention.

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