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Clin Infect Dis. 2005 Jan 1;40(1):38-45. Epub 2004 Dec 6.

Recommendations for the selective use of herpes simplex virus type 2 serological tests.

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  • 1California Department of Health Services, Sexually Transmitted Disease Control Branch, Berkeley, CA, USA.



Herpes simplex virus (HSV) type-specific serological tests are now widely available, but indications for their use have not been well defined. The California Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) Controllers Association convened a committee of clinicians and researchers to make recommendations for the use of type-specific HSV type 2 (HSV-2) serological tests.


By means of a systematic review of the literature, evidence to support screening in selected high-risk groups was compiled. Screening recommendations were developed by applying standard screening criteria to each specific population.


The committee concluded that, in addition to serological testing for the diagnostic evaluation of patients with symptoms, screening of asymptomatic patients is likely to be beneficial among the following groups: those at high risk for STDs and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection who are motivated to reduce their sexual risk behavior, HIV-infected patients, and patients with sex partners with genital herpes. In contrast, universal screening for HSV-2 infection in pregnant women is unlikely to be beneficial.


The targeted use of HSV-2 serological tests for specific diagnostic situations and selected populations should benefit patients, providers, and the community. Until more data become available, these recommendations provide justification for selective diagnostic and screening uses of HSV-2 serological tests.

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