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Screening for Genital Herpes

Screening Guidelines

The purpose of screening is early diagnosis and treatment. Screening tests are given to people without current symptoms, but who may be at high risk for certain diseases or conditions.

At this time, there are no screening guidelines or test for genital herpes. A doctor may recommend screening if you are at high risk for sexually transmitted diseases, such as:

  • Having multiple sex partners
  • Having HIV infection
  • Having a past history of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Men who have sex with men who are at high risk of HIV infection

People who have had multiple sex partners should consider screening for STDs even if there is not a specific guideline.

Women who are pregnant and near labor will be asked about their history and be examined for any sores in the genital area. A test may also be done to find out if the virus is present. This is especially important at the time of labor to avoid spreading the virus to the baby.


2015 Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Updated March 9, 2016. Accessed June 6, 2016.

Beauman JG. Genital herpes: a review. Am Fam Physician. 2005;72(8):1527-1534.

Gardella C, Huang ML, Wald A, et al. Rapid polymerase chain reaction assay to detect herpes simplex virus in the genital tract of women in labor. Obstet Gynecol. 2010;115(6):1209-1216.

Genital herpes—CDC fact sheet (detailed). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Updated November 17, 2015. Accessed June 6, 2016.