Knowledge of genital herpes infection among antenatal clinic attendees in South-Eastern Nigeria

  • S Onwere
  • B Chigbu
  • O Okoro
  • CI Kamanu
  • C Aluka
  • A Onwere


Background: Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is a major cause of genital ulcer disease worldwide and a significant factor for increased risk of acquisition and transmission of the Human Immune Deficiency Virus (HIV). The determination of the level of knowledge of genital herpes is necessary for the design and implementation of its specific preventive strategies as well as the reduction of the contribution of genital herpes to HIV transmission.
Objective: To determine antenatal women’s knowledge on genital herpes infection. Design: A cross sectional descriptive study.
Setting: Antenatal clinic of Abia State University Teaching, Hospital, Aba, Nigeria. Subjects: Three hundred and fifty consecutive and consenting antenatal clinic attendees of Abia State University Teaching Hospital (ABSUTH), Aba, South Eastern, Nigeria. Results: Seventy nine respondents (22.6%) had ever heard of genital herpes whilst sixty two (17.7%) had ever had recurrent blisters around their genitals. Two hundred and sixteen respondents (61.7%) reported having had cold sores or blisters around the
lips or mouth following an episode of fever. Seventy four (21.1 %) of the respondents knew that the virus that causes cold sores or blisters can be sexually transmitted. Higher educational levels attained and occupations other than being a housewife or farmer were associated with a greater awareness of genital herpes (p<0.05) among the subjects.
Conclusion: The antenatal attendees showed a poor knowledge of genital herpes infection. Discussion of genital herpes should be considered in the antenatal clinic setting along with the counselling of pregnant women regarding genital herpes, HIV infection and maternal-to-child transmission of both HSV and HIV.

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