Importance: Genital herpes is a prevalent sexually transmitted infection in the United States, occurring in almost 1 in 6 persons aged 14 to 49 years. Infection is caused by 2 subtypes of the herpes simplex virus (HSV), HSV-1 and HSV-2. Antiviral medications may provide symptomatic relief from outbreaks but do not cure HSV infection. Neonatal herpes infection, while uncommon, can result in substantial morbidity and mortality.
Objective: To update the 2005 US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendation on screening for genital herpes.
Evidence review: The USPSTF reviewed the evidence on the accuracy, benefits, and harms of serologic screening for HSV-2 infection in asymptomatic persons, including those who are pregnant, as well as the effectiveness and harms of preventive medications and behavioral counseling interventions to reduce future symptomatic episodes and transmission to others.
Findings: Based on the natural history of HSV infection, its epidemiology, and the available evidence on the accuracy of serologic screening tests, the USPSTF concluded that the harms outweigh the benefits of serologic screening for genital HSV infection in asymptomatic adolescents and adults, including those who are pregnant.
Conclusions and recommendation: The USPSTF recommends against routine serologic screening for genital HSV infection in asymptomatic adolescents and adults, including those who are pregnant. (D recommendation).