High seroprevalence of syphilis and genital herpes in migrants in transit in Chiapas, Mexico

Journal article

Objectives. To determine the prevalence of antibodies against Treponema pallidum and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), and to identify the factors associated with these infections among migrants in transit in Chia- pas, Mexico. Methods. Cross-sectional study conducted during 2021–2022, in three migrant shelters in Chiapas, Mexico. Participants answered a questionnaire and provided a blood sample to detect antibodies against Treponema pallidum and HSV-2. The study calculated seroprevalence and assessed associated factors using Chi-square (χ2) tests and odds ratios. Results. A total of 462 migrants participated, with an average age of 31.2 years; 56.9% were women, and 41.1% came from Honduras. The seroprevalence of HSV-2 was 29.9%; for syphilis it was 4.5%, and it was higher in men (8.0%) than in women (1.9%). Among pregnant women, 15.4% had antibodies against syphi- lis. Notable variables associated with syphilis include being male, having a history of genital lesions, having same-sex partners, and seropositivity to HSV-2. Regarding HSV-2, factors associated with infection included being female, age, schooling, sleeping in the street, a history of HIV testing, early sexual debut, number of sexual partners, and syphilis. Conclusions. A high prevalence of syphilis and HSV-2 was found among the migrant population evaluated. Syphilis is confirmed as a re-emerging infection, even in women. Migrants have vulnerabilities associated with sexual behavior, so prevention, diagnosis, and treatment measures should be focused on this population group.


Sánchez-Alemán, M. A., A. E. Rogel-González, S. García-Cisneros, M. Olamendi-Portugal, D. N. Vergara-Ortega, H. A. Rincón-León, A. Herrera-Ortiz (2023) Alta seroprevalencia de sífilis y herpes genital en migrantes en tránsito en Chiapas, México. Rev Panam Salud Publica. 2023;47:e71. https://doi.org/10.26633/RPSP.2023.71