Research furthers development of test for oral and genital herpes

Research furthers development of test for oral and genital herpes.
Research furthers development of test for oral and genital herpes. | Courtesy of

Scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Johns Hopkins and Harvard universities have discovered some new research that could advance creating a universally accurate diagnostic test for the human herpes simplex viruses (HSV).

HSV can manifest in different ways, which depends on factors like the strain of the virus. Cold sores are linked to HSV1, and genital herpes is linked to HSV2. HSV2 is the more serious of the two strains. People who have HSV2 are more susceptible to HIV infections.

The test typically fails in Africa but reports high accuracy in Europe and the U.S. The test can discriminate between HSV and HIV, but it cannot detect these two illnesses in Africa. This is because the test was first developed to identify genetic sequences that are in European patients. The glycoproteins in Africans who have HSV may have different genetic strains than the patients in Europe and the U.S.

Study results confirming these suspicions bring researchers one step closer to a more accurate diagnosis for HSV.

"Because HSV2 enhances HIV transmission, we have been testing people across East Africa for genital herpes, but everybody was coming up positive -- the test was just not as specific as it should be," Thomas Quinn, M.D., professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and associate director of international research and senior investigator in the Division of Intramural Research at NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said.

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National Institutes of Health

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