Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


A cross-sectional survey was carried out in Toronto, Canada between 1978 and 1980 with the objective of identifying the contraceptive, sexual and socioeconomic factors associated with antibody evidence of HSV-2 infection. A stratified random sampling method was used to obtain men and women from diverse socioeconomic areas of the city. A door-to-door survey was carried out in which persons between the ages of 35 and 50 were interviewed and a blood sample drawn. The sera were analyzed using a radioimmunoassay method for herpes simplex virus (HSV) type-specific and crossreacting antibodies. Of 1,220 persons invited to participate, 957 (78.4%) completed interviews. Seven hundred and forty-eight serum samples were retrieved from 320 men and 428 women. HSV antibody was found in 587 (78.5%) of those tested. HSV-2 antibody was found in the sera of 116 (15.5%) participants consisting of 41 (12.8%) men and 75 (17.5%) women. Both men and women with HSV-2 antibody had begun intercourse at an earlier age, had had more sexual partners, and were more likely to rent their homes than those without antibody. Women with HSV-2 antibody had a lower educational level and lower household income, reported fewer years of condom use by their partners, more years of oral contraceptive use, more frequently reported having had a hysterectomy and having had cervical cancer than women without antibody. When the sexual and contraceptive variables as well as other socioeconomic and lifestyle variables were examined using logistic regression, men who had begun intercourse by age 17, who reported at least 10 sexual partners, who rented their homes, and lived in an apartment, were more likely to show HSV-2 antibody even when adjustment was made for age and other factors. Women who had begun intercourse by age 19, reported at least 2 sexual partners, reported condom use by their partners for fewer years, who had used an oral contraceptive for at least ten years, rented their homes, and had undergone a hysterectomy, were more likely to have HSV-2 antibody, even when adjustment was made for age and other factors.



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