Epidemiological Impact of a Genital Herpes Type 2 Vaccine for Young Females

Yijun Lou, Redouane Qesmi, Qian Wang, Marc Steben, Jianhong Wu, Jane M. Heffernan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Genital Herpes, which is caused by Herpes Simplex Virus-1 or -2 (HSV-1, -2, predominantly HSV-2) is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that causes a chronic latent infection with outbreak episodes linked to transmission. Antiviral therapies are effective in reducing viral shedding during these episodes, but are ineffective as a whole since many outbreaks are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. Thus, the development of a vaccine for genital herpes is needed to control this disease. The question of how to implement such a vaccine program is an important one, and may be similar to the vaccination program for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) for young females. We have developed a mathematical model to describe the epidemiology of vaccination targeting young females against HSV-2. The model population is delineated with respect to age group, sexual activity and infection status including oral infection of HSV-1, which may affect vaccine efficacy. A threshold parameter RC, which determines the level of vaccine uptake needed to eradicate HSV-2, is found. Computer simulation shows that an adolescent-only vaccination program may be effective in eliminating HSV-2 disease, however, the success of extinction greatly depends on the level of vaccine uptake, the vaccine efficacy, the age of sexual maturity and safe sex practices. However, the time course of eradication would take many years. We also investigate the prevalence of infection in the total population and in women between 16-30 years of age before and after vaccination has been introduced, and show that the adolescent-only vaccination program can be effective in reducing disease prevalence in these populations depending on the level of vaccine uptake and vaccine efficacy. This will also result in a decrease of maternal-fetal transmission of HSV-2 infection. Another important, if commonsense, conclusion is that vaccination of some females reduces infection in men, which then reduces infection in women.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere46027
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 11 Oct 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Medicine


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