Background: Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) infection is the main cause of genital and neonatal herpes infections. It has considerable public health importance among women as the virus may lead to adverse outcomes in pregnancy and neonatal infection. This study determines the molecular epidemiology and risk factors of HSV-2 infection among pregnant women. Methods: In this cross-sectional study, all pregnant women admitted to three university hospitals for natural birth and Caesarean sections were enrolled. HSV detection and typing were carried out based on PCR and reverse dot blotting method, respectively. ANOVA and bivariate correlations were used to analyze the data. Results: In this study, the prevalence of genital herpes infection was 5.7%. A significant positive correlation was found between age group < 25 years and HSV-2 shedding (P = 0.026). Twelve participants (60%) with HSV-2 shedding were younger than 25. A significant correlation was found between the presence of genital lesion and HSV-2 (? = 0.02). Among participants with HSV-2 infection, the use of condom was low. Neonatal complications were not seen in newborns from mothers with HSV-2 shedding. Conclusion: PCR assay may help in promoting early diagnosis and more effective treatment for patients. Also, it shortens hospital stay and enhances patients’ condition. HSV-2 transmission is rapid following the onset of sexual activity and likely to result in the significant prevalence of genital disease.
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