Serologic Screening for Genital Herpes Infection: US Preventive Services Task Force Reaffirmation Recommendation Statement

JAMA. 2023 Feb 14;329(6):502-507. doi: 10.1001/jama.2023.0057.


Importance: Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted infection caused by 2 related viruses, herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex type 2 (HSV-2). Infection is lifelong; currently, there is no cure for HSV infection. Antiviral medications may provide clinical benefits to symptomatic persons. Transmission of HSV from a pregnant person to their infant can occur, most commonly during delivery; when genital lesions or prodromal symptoms are present, cesarean delivery can reduce the risk of transmission. Neonatal herpes infection is uncommon yet can result in substantial morbidity and mortality.

Objective: To reaffirm its 2016 recommendation, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) commissioned a reaffirmation evidence update on targeted key questions to systematically evaluate the evidence on accuracy, benefits, and harms of routine serologic screening for HSV-2 infection in asymptomatic adolescents, adults, and pregnant persons.

Population: Adolescents and adults, including pregnant persons, without known history, signs, or symptoms of genital HSV infection.

Evidence assessment: 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 pregnant persons.

Recommendation: The USPSTF recommends against routine serologic screening for genital HSV infection in asymptomatic adolescents and adults, including pregnant persons. (D recommendation).

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Herpes Genitalis* / diagnosis
  • Herpes Genitalis* / drug therapy
  • Herpes Simplex / diagnosis
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human*
  • Herpesvirus 2, Human*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Mass Screening* / adverse effects
  • Mass Screening* / psychology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious* / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious* / drug therapy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious* / prevention & control
  • Serologic Tests* / adverse effects
  • Serologic Tests* / methods
  • Serologic Tests* / psychology