PloS one 2018 04 0413(4) e0194125 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0194125
In South Africa, treatment of genital ulcer disease (GUD) occurs in the context of syndromic management. GUD aetiological studies have been conducted in Johannesburg since 2007. We report on GUD pathogen prevalence, sero-prevalence of STI co-infections and aetiological trends among GUD patients presenting to a community-based primary healthcare facility in Johannesburg over a 9-year period.
METHODS AND FINDINGS
GUD surveys were conducted from January to April each year. Consecutive genital ulcers were sampled from consenting adults. Swab-extracted DNA was tested by multiplex real-time PCR assays for herpes simplex virus (HSV), Treponema pallidum (TP), Haemophilus ducreyi (HD) and Chlamydia trachomatis (CT). HSV-positive DNA extracts were further subtyped into HSV-1 and HSV-2 using a commercial PCR assay; CT-positive extracts were tested with an in-house PCR assay specific for serovars L1-L3 (lymphogranuloma venereum). Sera were tested for HIV, HSV-2, and syphilis co-infections. Giemsa-stained ulcer smears were screened for Klebsiella granulomatis by microscopy. Data were analysed with STATATM version 14. Of 771 GUD specimens, 503 (65.2%) had a detectable pathogen: HSV 468 (60.7%); TP 30 (3.9%); CT L1-3 7 (0.9%); HD 4 (0.5%). No aetiological agents were detected in 270 (34.8%) ulcer specimens. Seroprevalence rates were as follows: HIV 61.7%; HSV-2 80.2% and syphilis 5.8%. There was a strong association between GUD pathogen detection and HIV seropositivity (p < 0.001); 68% of cases caused by HSV were co-infected with HIV. There was a significant decline in the relative prevalence of ulcer-derived HSV over time, predominantly from 2013-2015 (p-value for trend = 0.023); and a trend towards a decrease in the HIV seropositivity rate (p-value for trend = 0.209). CONCLUSIONS
HSV remains the leading cause of pathogen-detectable GUD in South Africa. The prevalence of HIV co-infection among GUD patients is high, underlining the importance of linkage to universal HIV testing and treatment in primary healthcare settings.