Most babies with herpes get infected as they come into contact with the herpes virus while passing through the birth canal, but infection can also occur before birth (congenital infection) or in the weeks after birth.
If you are pregnant and think that you or your partner may have genital herpes, tell your doctor.
If you are a pregnant woman and have a partner with genital herpes, it is very important to get tested.
If you get genital herpes during pregnancy your baby could also become infected.
In addition, without knowing the benefits of testing, the risk of shaming and stigmatizing people outweighs the potential benefits.
For these reasons, testing everyone for herpes is not recommended at this time. Even though adults with genital herpes may not have any symptoms, herpes infections in babies can be life-threatening.
This increases the chance of getting HIV, if exposed. Studies show that testing for genital herpes and treating with herpes medications does not lower the risk of getting HIV.
Syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia are “notifiable” diseases in the United States, but herpes is not.
CDC recommends herpes testing for people who have genital symptoms for herpes to confirm that they are infected.
These events are called “having an outbreak,” and they appear as blisters on or around the genitals, rectum, or mouth.
Most people who have HSV-1 or HSV-2 don’t have symptoms.
There are a lot of questions about herpes tests, and this page will help you understand CDC’s herpes testing recommendations.
Your doctor can order testing and can talk to you about ways to lower your baby’s risk for infection.