Role of sexual behavior in the acquisition of asymptomatic Epstein-Barr virus infection: a longitudinal study.

Ciaran Woodman, Stuart Collins, N Vavrusova, Ankit Rao, JM Middeldorp, Z Kolar, A Kumari, P Nelson, Lawrence Young, Paul Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: The natural history of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection is poorly defined. We report the prevalence and subsequent incidence of EBV infection in a cohort of sexually active young women and explore the social and sexual determinants of incident infections. METHODS: The study population was drawn from a cohort of young women, who were recruited for a longitudinal study of risk factors for early cervical neoplasia. A case-control analysis, nested within the cohort of 45 women for whom the first EBV sample tested was EBV-negative and who had further follow-up, was undertaken. EBV serostatus was determined in serum with a synthetic peptide-based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay; EBV DNA was measured in cervical smears with the use of quantitative polymerase chain reaction. RESULTS: Of 1023 women 15-19 years of age included in this analysis, 978 (95.6%) tested positive for antibodies to EBV in their first serum sample. Of 45 women who tested negative, 22 subsequently acquired an asymptomatic EBV infection; the median time to seroconversion was 25 months (range, 1-60 months), and the median age at seroconversion was 18 years (range, 16-21 years). The risk of seroconversion increased with increasing number of sexual partners [compared with 1 partner, odds ratio (OR) was 1.28 for 2 partners and 2.23 for 3 or more; chiTREND 5.02; df 1; P <0.05] and was greatest when a new sexual partner had been acquired in the 2 years before seroconversion (OR 4.78; chi 4.62; df 1; P <0.05). EBV DNA was detected in 9 of 14 women who seroconverted and who also provided cervical samples. CONCLUSIONS: In susceptible young women, the acquisition of EBV infection is associated with their sexual behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)498-502
Number of pages5
JournalThe Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2005


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