23 Feb USPSTF Statement on Screening For Genital Herpes
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
James Stevermer, M.D., M.S.P.H.
Vice chair for clinical affairs
Professor of family and community medicine
University of Missouri
Medical director of MU Health Care Family Medicine–Callaway Physicians,
Dr. Stevermer joined the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force in January 2021.
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) that unfortunately has no cure and cannot accurately be detected in people who do not have signs of the condition. The current screening tests have limitations and there is a high chance that test results will say a person has the condition when they do not. In addition, the available treatments are focused on managing symptoms and preventing the condition from reoccurring. As a result, the Task Force concluded that the harms of screening outweigh the benefits.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? What if the patient is asymptomatic but has a history of herpes simplex or unspecified genital infection?
Response: After reviewing the available evidence, the Task Force has recommended against widespread serologic screening for genital herpes. This recommendation does not apply to people who have signs or symptoms, nor does it apply to people who have been known to have herpes in the past. People who have concerns about their sexual health, or those who have a partner with diagnosed herpes, should talk with their clinician about prevention, testing and treatment options. This conversation with your healthcare professional is particularly important if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
If someone without signs or symptoms, but with a known history of unspecified genital infections, is concerned about their sexual health, they should speak with their clinician about how best to get the care they need to stay healthy.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: While the Task Force concluded that it is not beneficial to screen for genital herpes, sexual health is extremely important and there are several other proven ways that people can prevent STIs or find them early so that they can get the care they need.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a results of this study?
Response: The Task Force identified many areas in need of additional research. First, we need more information about the accuracy of screening among people without signs or symptoms in the primary care setting. It is also important that future studies enroll people of varying ages, races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations so that we can better understand screening accuracy and effective prevention strategies in specific populations, especially those who may be disproportionately affected by genital herpes.
Additionally, more studies are needed on effective behavioral counseling and preventive medications that might help improve the health of those who have herpes, but do not currently have any signs or symptoms. Finally, it is important that there is more research and development on a potential cure for genital herpes, as well as work to develop an effective vaccine that can prevent the infection.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add? Any disclosures
Response: The Task Force previously confirmed that behavioral counseling around STIs can improve the health of sexually active adolescents and adults who are at increased risk. Anyone who has a concern related to their sexual health should talk to their healthcare professional about the best ways to get and stay healthy.
- US Preventive Services Task Force. Serologic Screening for Genital Herpes Infection: US Preventive Services Task Force Reaffirmation Recommendation Statement. JAMA. 2023;329(6):502–507. doi:10.1001/jama.2023.0057
US Preventive Services Task Force
US Preventive Services Task Force; Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, PhD, MD, MAS; David C. Grossman, MD, MPH; Susan J. Curry, PhD; Karina W. Davidson, PhD, MASc; John W. Epling Jr, MD, MSEd; Francisco A. R. García, MD, MPH; Alex R. Kemper, MD, MPH, MS; Alex H. Krist, MD, MPH; Ann E. Kurth, PhD, RN, MSN, MPH; C. Seth Landefeld, MD; Carol M. Mangione, MD, MSPH; William R. Phillips, MD, MPH; Maureen G. Phipps, MD, MPH; Michael P. Pignone, MD, MPH; Michael Silverstein, MD, MPH; Chien-Wen Tseng, MD, MPH, MSEE
US Preventive Services Task Force
Cynthia Feltner, MD, MPH; Catherine Grodensky, MPH; Charles Ebel, BA; Jennifer C. Middleton, PhD; Russell P. Harris, MD, MPH; Mahima Ashok, PhD, MS; Daniel E. Jonas, MD, MPH
Gary N. Asher, MD, MPH; Cynthia Feltner, MD, MPH; Wade N. Harrison, MD, MPH; Emmanuel Schwimmer, MPH; Caroline Rains, MPH; Daniel E. Jonas, MD, MPH
JAMA Patient Page
Patient Information: Screening for Genital Herpes
Jill Jin, MD, MPH
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