National task force advises against routine herpes testing
Contrary to common practice, medical experts recently advised against routine testing for genital herpes in teens and adults because no cure exists and screening is too often imprecise.
"Despite genital herpes being common, testing is not generally helpful for people without symptoms, in part because early identification does not improve a person's health, as there is no cure for herpes," public health professional Ann Kurth said in a Dec. 20 statement from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). "In addition, 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."
While stipulating that no key public health entities advise routine screening for herpes in the absence of symptoms, the task force strongly recommends proactive communication with one’s practitioner if symptoms of herpes or any other STDs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV occur.
USPSTF does advise regular screenings for certain populations
at high risk.
Kurth, who serves as dean of the Yale School of Nursing and professor of nursing, holds memberships in several industry academies. An epidemiologist and certified nurse-midwife, she studies sexually transmitted infection with a focus on screening and prevention.
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