Use of a glycoprotein G-based type-specific assay to detect antibodies to herpes simplex virus type 2 among persons attending sexually transmitted disease clinics

Sex Transm Dis. 2001 Feb;28(2):99-104. doi: 10.1097/00007435-200102000-00007.


Background: Most genital herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) infections are unrecognized, thus, strategies to reduce the sexual transmission of HSV-2 are partly dependent on serologic screening.

Goal: To define performance characteristics of the Gull/ Meridian glycoprotein G-based HSV-2 enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay among sexually transmitted disease clinic attendees and correlates of test acceptance.

Study design: The cross-sectional study was conducted during two periods. Serologic testing was offered at a US $15 charge during the first period and at no charge during the second period. Sera were tested by a type-specific glycoprotein G enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and Western blot analysis, with the latter test used as the reference standard.

Results: Acceptance of HSV-2 testing was associated with free testing (odds ratio, 7.5; 95% CI, 6.0-9.9), older age, and white race. Sensitivity of the HSV-2 assay was 80.5% and specificity was 98.5%. The HSV-2 positive and negative predictive values were 95.8% (95% CI, 91.6-98.0%) and 92.2% (95 % CI, 89.6 -94.2%), respectively. Antibodies to HSV-2 were detected in 25.9% of 606 persons with no history of genital herpes.

Conclusion: Acceptance of HSV-2 serologic testing was cost sensitive. In this high-prevalence population, the positive predictive value of the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was sufficient to warrant its use without a confirmatory test. This assay could be useful in the screening of sexually active adults to detect unrecognized HSV-2 infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / economics
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / methods*
  • Female
  • Herpes Genitalis / diagnosis*
  • Herpes Genitalis / epidemiology
  • Herpesvirus 2, Human / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / epidemiology
  • Viral Envelope Proteins / immunology*
  • Washington / epidemiology


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Viral Envelope Proteins
  • glycoprotein G, herpes simplex virus type 2