Genital herpes: review of the epidemic and potential use of type-specific serology

Clin Microbiol Rev. 1999 Jan;12(1):1-8. doi: 10.1128/CMR.12.1.1.


Prevention of genital herpes simplex virus (HSV) infections is desirable from both a public health standpoint and the patient's perspective. A key factor in the spread of genital herpes infections is the high proportion of undiagnosed infections. Persons with subclinical or unrecognized infections are best diagnosed by accurate, type-specific antibody tests. Unfortunately, these tests are only now becoming widely available. The use of current, conventional (non-type-specific) serologic tests for diagnosis of herpes infections has resulted in confusion and misdiagnosis of patients. This review provides recent information on the epidemiology of genital herpes infections, describes the importance of subclinical herpes infection and shedding, summarizes the status of HSV type-specific serologic assays being developed, and provides indications for using such assays.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Female
  • Herpes Genitalis / diagnosis
  • Herpes Genitalis / epidemiology*
  • Herpes Genitalis / virology*
  • Herpesvirus 2, Human / classification*
  • Herpesvirus 2, Human / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Serotyping / methods