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Clinical Summary

Genital Herpes Infection: Serologic Screening

Recommendations made by the USPSTF are independent of the U.S. government. They should not be construed as an official position of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Population Asymptomatic adolescents and adults, including those who are pregnant
Recommendation Do not routinely screen for genital herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection.
Grade: D
Screening Tests The most widely used, currently available serologic screening test for HSV-2 is not suitable for population-based screening, based on its low specificity, the lack of widely available confirmatory testing, and its high false-positive rate. While serologic screening tests can detect HSV-1 infection, the tests cannot determine if the site of infection is oral or genital.
Treatment and Interventions There is no cure for genital HSV infection. Antiviral medications are used for the management of symptomatic outbreaks and for prevention in patients with a history of frequent symptomatic outbreaks.
Balance of Benefits and Harms The USPSTF concludes with moderate certainty that the harms outweigh the benefits for population-based screening for genital HSV infection in asymptomatic adolescents and adults, including those who are pregnant.
Other Relevant USPSTF Recommendations The USPSTF recommends intensive behavioral counseling interventions to reduce the likelihood of acquiring a sexually transmitted infection for all sexually active adolescents and for adults at increased risk. The USPSTF has also issued recommendations on screening for other sexually transmitted infections, including chlamydia and gonorrhea, hepatitis B virus, HIV, and syphilis. These recommendations are available on the USPSTF website (

For a summary of the evidence systematically reviewed in making this recommendation, the full recommendation statement, and supporting documents, please go to

Current as of: December 2016

Internet Citation: Clinical Summary: Genital Herpes Infection: Serologic Screening. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. December 2016.

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