Herpes simplex virus (HSV) types 1 and 2 cause genital herpes infections and are the most common cause of genital ulcer disease in industrialized nations. Although these infections are very common, the majority of them remain underdiagnosed because they are asymptomatic or unrecognized. A clinical diagnosis of genital herpes should always be confirmed by laboratory testing; this can be accomplished through the use of direct tests for viral isolation, the detection of antigen or, more recently, the detection of HSV DNA using molecular diagnostic techniques. Testing for serotypes is recommended because of the different prognostic and counselling implications. Type-specific HSV serology is becoming more readily available and will enhance the ability to make the diagnosis and guide clinical management in select patients.
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