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APHA Scientific Session and Event Listing

Vaginal douching and risk of herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) infection

Catlainn Sionean, PhD and Karin Rosenblatt, PhD. Department of Kinesiology & Community Health, University of Illinois, 1206 South Fourth Street, Room 127, Champaign, IL 61820, 217-244-4061, sionean@uiuc.edu

Background: Herpes simplex virus type two (HSV-2) is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can lead to neonatal mortality and may also facilitate transmission of other STIs, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Vaginal douching may increase the risk for HSV-2, although this hypothesis has not been tested in a nationally representative sample.

Objectives: To determine the potential increased risk for HSV-2 associated with use of feminine hygiene products.

Methods: We analyzed public release data from the 2001-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which include results of serologic testing for HSV-2 and data regarding douching for female participants aged 18 to 49. We used logistic regression, adjusting for the complex sample design, to test associations between HSV-2 and douching, controlling for demographics and known risk factors.

Results: The frequency of douching in the past 6 months was associated with increased odds of HSV-2 infection, with an apparent dose-response effect [OR=1.97 (95% CI 1.08-3.59), for once per month compared to those who did not douche in the past 6 months; OR=2.03 (95% CI 1.31-3.15) for 2-4 times per month; OR=5.85 (95% CI 1.55-22.07) for 5 or more times per month], adjusting for age, race/ethnicity, education, marital status, and lifetime sex partners. The association between douching and HSV-2 did not vary by race/ethnicity, education, or marital status.

Conclusions: The results support previous research indicating the harmful effects of vaginal douching. Frequent douching may increase the risk for HSV-2 infection. Longitudinal studies are needed to determine the time sequence of the relationship.

Learning Objectives: At the end of the session, participants will be able to

Keywords: STD, Risk Factors

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No

Sexually Transmitted Disease Epidemiology

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA