USPSTF recommends against routine screening of asymptomatic people for genital herpes


Dr Veena Aggarwal, Consultant Womens’ Health, CMD and Editor-in-Chief, IJCP Group & Medtalks Trustee, Dr KK’s Heart Care Foundation of India    19 February 2023

Reiterating its earlier recommendation issued in 2016, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has again stated that asymptomatic adolescents and adults, including pregnant women need not be routinely screened for genital herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection in an updated statement published in JAMA.1


A grade D recommendation has been issued, which means that “there is moderate or high certainty that the service has no net benefit or that the harms outweigh the benefits” based on which the Task Force “discourages the use of this service”.2


This recommendation comes after the Task Force undertook a thorough examination of available literature on the benefits and harms of serologic screening for HSV-2 infection in adolescents, adults, and pregnant persons without a known history of genital HSV infection or are asymptomatic. Sixty-four full text and 3119 abstracts were reviewed. No new evidence to alter the recommendation was found. Hence, the Task Force concluded 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”.1


The authors have also noted that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) does not recommend routine serologic screening for HSV in asymptomatic pregnant persons.1,3 The 2021 CDC guidelines for Sexually Transmitted Infections also do not encourage routine HSV-2 serologic screening among asymptomatic pregnant women.4



  1. US Preventive Services Task Force; Carol M Mangione, et al. 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.
  2. Grade definitions. Available at: https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/about-uspstf/methods-and-processes/grade-definitions#july2012. Accessed on Feb. 18, 2023.
  3. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Management of genital herpes in pregnancy: ACOG Practice Bulletin, number 220. Obstet Gynecol. 2020;135(5):e193-e202.
  4. Workowski KA, et al. Sexually Transmitted Infections Treatment Guidelines, 2021. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2021 Jul 23;70(4):1-187. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.rr7004a1.

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