Routine Testing for Genital Herpes of Little Benefit: U.S. Experts
TUESDAY, Dec. 20, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Routine blood test screening for genital herpes is not recommended for teens and adults — including pregnant women — who don’t have any signs or symptoms of the sexually transmitted disease (STD), a panel of U.S. health care experts says.
The newly released recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reaffirms one issued in 2005.
After reviewing available evidence, the group concluded that the potential harms of screening outweigh the benefits. Blood test screening for genital herpes is highly inaccurate and there is no cure, so screening, early identification and treatment are unlikely to affect the course of the disease, according to the task force.
The recommendation was published online Dec. 20 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The task force is an independent panel of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine.
“Because current screening methods are often inaccurate, harms of screening include high false-positive rates and potential anxiety and disruption of personal relationships related to diagnosis,” task force member Ann Kurth said in a news release from the panel. Kurth is dean of the Yale School of Nursing in New Haven, Conn.
Dr. Maureen Phipps is chairwoman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology and an assistant dean at Brown University’s Medical School in Providence, R.I. “People who are concerned about their personal risk or are experiencing signs and symptoms of genital herpes should talk to their primary care clinician,” Phipps said.
“This is especially true for women who are pregnant because clinicians can help women who have genital herpes minimize the chance of passing this on to their babies,” she added.
Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted disease caused by the herpes simplex virus. In the United States, about one out of every six people aged 14 to 49 years have genital herpes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Many people who have herpes have no symptoms, or very mild symptoms, so most people who have the disease don’t know it, the CDC noted.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on genital herpes.