Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Are Blood Test Accurate For Herpes

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What Should I Do If My Test Results Are Positive

Many at-home services have independent physicians or nurses reach out to people with positive test results. Theyll discuss your results with you and suggest a plan of action, possibly including medication.

If your results are positive, its important to let any recent sexual partners know so they can also get tested.

How Often Are Blood Tests For Herpes Wrong

Meanwhile, the CDC and the US Preventive Services Task Force concur that the most widely available herpes test, called HerpeSelect, should not be used to screen asymptomatic people because of its high risk of false positives: Up to 1 in 2 positive tests could be false, according to the USPSTFs most recent guidelines.

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If You Have Zero Symptoms Getting Tested Won’t Help You

The problem is that blood tests for herpes when no lesions or symptoms are present are often bullshit. I realize that’s a pretty strong word, but after speaking with doctors who have administered these tests, it’s become more and more apparent to me how misunderstood and in some cases, just plain wrong the results they give are.

Part of the reason they’re flawed has to do with the fact that most people have been exposed to HSV-1 or oral herpes. “For HSV-1, close to 100 percent of people in the U.S. are antibody-positive because they have been exposed at some point in their lives, though only a percentage of these individuals will actually get cold sores,” says Adam Friedman, the residency program director at the George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences in Washington, D.C. He adds that blood tests can be misleading because they usually don’t detect the herpes virus itself and instead look at the level of antibodies against the virus, which is merely a sign of immune response to it.

How To Read Your Results

Everything you need to learn about HSV test or herpes test

Your HSV test results will likely be reported as negative or positive :

  • Negative. The herpes virus was not found. However, you may still have an HSV infection if your results were negative. It may mean the sample didnt have enough virus to be detected. If you still have symptoms of herpes, you may need to order another test.
  • Positive. HSV was found in your sample. It may mean you have an active infection or contracted the virus in the past .

If your test results are positive for HSV, talk with a doctor about your next steps.

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Study Questions Reliability Of Diagnostic Tests For Herpes

Up to half of those screened for genital herpes may be incorrectly told they are infected

Tests commonly used to diagnose oral and genital herpes are often unreliable, missing some cases of infection and, in others, identifying an infection that does not exist, say researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

In nearly half of patients with commercial test results indicating that they were infected with the most common cause of recurrent genital herpes, herpes simplex virus 2 , a subsequent test showed that the initial diagnosis was incorrect, the researchers report in a paper published today in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

The high rate of false-positive HSV-2 tests was particularly troubling, said Dr. Anna Wald, who led the research.

These tests arent as good as they ought to be, given that they are used to diagnose someone with a chronic, lifelong sexually transmitted disease. Wald directs UWs Virology Research Clinic and is a professor of medicine, epidemiology, and laboratory medicine.

The investigators examined results from FDA-approved tests used to diagnose HSV-2 and herpes simplex virus type 1 , the most common cause of cold sores.

These tests, called enzyme-linked immunoassays, detect the presence of antibodies to the herpes simplex viruses in a persons blood. When the antibodies are detected, the test is positive, meaning that the person is infected by the virus. No detected antibodies indicates no infection.

When Should You Get Tested

The best time to get tested for herpes varies, depending on what’s happening.

If you’re exhibiting symptoms of an initial outbreak which include pain, itching and redness of the affected location fatigue, fever and chills and, ultimately, painful sores or ulcers it’s best to see a healthcare professional about getting tested.

However, if you think you’ve been exposed to the virus and aren’t yet exhibiting symptoms, HSV may take some time before being able to show results on a test. While the exact time frame is unknown and varies from person to person, two weeks is usually enough time to yield accurate test results.

Most people become concerned about being infected with the herpes virus after contact with a potentially infected person. Often, simple things like kissing someone with a visible cold sore or facial acne around the lips can cause concern about HSV-1.

For genital herpes, most people become concerned about potentially being infected after sexual contact with a person that shows symptoms of herpes. This can include oral sex with someone that has cold sores, which can potentially spread to the genitals.

Since herpes is asymptomatic in many people, you could be infected with the virus even if you dont have any symptoms.

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Herpes Testing: Types Accuracy Timing And Necessity

In this section, weâll give you information about herpes testing.

Testing is what ultimately establishes or rule out a diagnosis of herpes. All the other weâve talked aboutâwhat you feel, what you see, and your odds of getting itâhelp us with the diagnosis, but theyâve canât establish it or confirm it.

This section will summarize the different types of herpes tests, their accuracy, how theyâre interpreted, and when theyâre necessary. Tables with important statistics will be followed by FAQ answered by âDr. F,â an STD expert.

So, if you want to know all about herpes testing, this chapter is for you!

The Accuracy Of Various Herpes Tests

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This table summarizes the overall accuracy of different herpes tests. Please especially pay attention to the most common test, the IgG testâand most importantly to its false positive and false negative rates.

The table has three columns:

  • Test accuracy: how accurate is the test in detecting the herpes virus
  • False positive: the test detects the presence of herpes, but the person doesnât actually have it
  • False negative: the test doesnât detect the presence of herpes, but the person does have it

Please note: the numbers in the table are averages and may vary from case to case based on factors such as when the test is performed , the testing technique, and the herpes viral load.

Test Type
100% 0% Depends on the time of sample collection: usually 25% but may be up to 70%
Blood test Commercially available IgG test: 94%Washington University test: > 99% Commercially available IgG test: up to 19%Washington University test*: 0% Commercially available IgG test: up to 38%Washington University test*: 0%

* The Washington University test is considered the âgold standardâ blood test. The false-negative and false-positive rates for the commercially available IgG test are based on a comparison to the Western blot results of the Washington University test.

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Why The Test Is Performed

The test is done to find out whether a person has ever been infected with oral or genital herpes. It looks for antibodies to herpes simplex virus 1 and herpes simplex virus 2 . An antibody is a substance made by the bodys immune system when it detects harmful substances such as the herpes virus. This test does not detect the virus itself.

Doctors Don’t Advise Getting A Blood Test For Herpes Without Any Symptoms

Hilda Hutcherson, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, is one of those doctors. “I usually dont do tests for herpes someone has a lesion or a sore, something I can see, I will do a swab and take it to a culture or check the DNA on the materials I removed,” she says. “If theres nothing there and I do a blood test and the blood test comes back positive, lets say its positive for type 1, what does that really mean? Most people are positive for type 1.” She adds that someone could be HSV-1-positive and either have or not have genital herpes. The result “doesnt mean much, and it makes people go crazy.”

Hutcherson’s motto is pretty simple: Why stress yourself over something if you haven’t seen anything especially when it’s something as common as herpes? “Let’s say they have a blood test come in positive but theyve never had a lesion. Now what? You may never get a lesion,” she says. It’s for this reason that she recommends people do not get tested for herpes unless they have a visible lesion that can be cultured and sent to a lab. Let’s say you get tested anyway and it comes back positive, despite the fact that you have no symptoms. What do you do?

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What Herpes Can Look Like

Firstly, the symptoms of herpes vary greatly from person to person. Herpes symptoms can sometimes resemble a paper cut, tear, pimple, blister, bump, cut, sore or a rash in the infected area.

Itching, burning and tingling is sometimes felt before any blister or sore appears. When the herpes virus is active and has broken out at the skins surface it typically develops into a fluid filled blister which ulcerates, begins to form a dry scab and then heals.

The herpes virus is normally only active on the skin for a short period of time before it retreats back inside the body, at which point the skin typically heals and returns to normal.

What Is A Serum Herpes Simplex Antibodies Test

Herpes Home Test

A serum herpes simplex antibodies test is a blood test that checks for the presence of antibodies to the herpes simplex virus .

HSV is a common infection that causes herpes. Herpes can appear in various parts of the body, but it most commonly affects the genitals or mouth. The two types of herpes infections are HSV-1 and HSV-2.

HSV-1, commonly known as oral herpes, usually causes cold sores and blisters near the mouth and on the face.

Its transmitted through kissing or sharing drinking glasses and utensils with a person who has an HSV infection.

HSV-2 is typically responsible for causing genital herpes. Its generally transmitted through sexual contact.

HSV-1 and HSV-2 dont always cause symptoms, and people may not know they have the infection.

The serum herpes simplex antibodies test doesnt actually check for the HSV infection itself. However, it can determine whether someone has antibodies to the virus.

Antibodies are special proteins that the body uses to defend itself against invading organisms such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

This means that most people who have an HSV infection will have the corresponding antibodies.

The test can detect antibodies for both types of HSV infections.

Your doctor may order a serum herpes simplex antibodies test if they suspect you have an HSV infection.

The results will determine whether youve contracted an HSV infection. If you have the antibodies to HSV, youll test positive even if you dont currently show any symptoms.

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Taking A Genital Or Oral Herpes Test

Testing for genital and oral herpes may be performed with a blood sample or a sample of fluid swabbed or scraped from a sore. Both types of samples are collected by a health professional when conducted at a doctors offices, clinic, or community organization.

If a patient is experiencing an outbreak, a doctor can collect a sample for testing by swabbing or scraping a sore. Material from the sore can be used for a herpes viral culture, PCR testing,

A Tzanck smear or an antibody test.

If a patient is not currently experiencing an outbreak, a blood test may be used to identify HSV antibodies. If a doctor suspects a brain infection with HSV, a lumbar puncture may be performed to obtain a sample of cerebrospinal fluid for analysis.

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All of this tells us that sure, there are some currently available blood tests for herpes that can tell you your status or give you some idea of it but they’re still far from perfect. And when we’re dealing with a illness that’s highly and widely stigmatized the way herpes has become, most people are looking for airtight answers. This is precisely why so many doctors, as well as the CDC, do not recommend getting tested unless you have the common symptoms associated with herpes, such as itching, burning, or a blister.

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How Much Does The Test Cost

The cost of testing for genital and oral herpes depends on the type of test that is performed, where the test is conducted, and whether the patient has medical insurance. Testing is often covered by insurance when ordered by a doctor, although patients may still be responsible for costs such as copays and deductibles.

What Happens During An Hsv Test

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HSV testing is usually done as a swab test, blood test, or lumbar puncture. The type of test you get will depend on your symptoms and health history.

  • For a swab test, a health care provider will use a swab to collect fluid and cells from a herpes sore.
  • For a blood test, a health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.
  • A lumbar puncture, also called a spinal tap, is only done if your provider thinks you may have an infection of the brain or spinal cord. During a spinal tap:
  • You will lie on your side or sit on an exam table.
  • A health care provider will clean your back and inject an anesthetic into your skin, so you wont feel pain during the procedure. Your provider may put a numbing cream on your back before this injection.
  • Once the area on your back is completely numb, your provider will insert a thin, hollow needle between two vertebrae in your lower spine. Vertebrae are the small backbones that make up your spine.
  • Your provider will withdraw a small amount of cerebrospinal fluid for testing. This will take about five minutes.
  • Your provider may ask you to lie on your back for an hour or two after the procedure. This may prevent you from getting a headache afterward.

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Are There Other Types Of Herpes Viruses Besides Hsv

Yes. There are over 25 viruses in the herpes family and at least 8 types that infect humans. These include herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2 discussed in this article as well as varicella zoster virus , associated with chickenpox and shingles, Epstein Barr virus , which can cause infectious mononucleosis, cytomegalovirus , human herpes virus 6 and human herpes virus 7 , both associated with roseola in young children, and human herpes virus 8 , which has been found in tumors in people with Kaposi’s sarcoma . KS primarily affects people with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS and organ transplant recipients.

How Often Is A Positive Herpes Test Correct

Then although almost all negative tests would still be accurate, positive tests would only be correct 55% to 85% of the time. In other words, there would be a lot of false positive tests. The possibility of false positive tests in populations where herpes isnt common is a big concern.

1. Doctor diagnosed me for having HSV-1 because I was having an outbreak and prescribed me with Valtrex that worked but blood, urine, and swabs came out NEGATIVE for HSV-1& 2. Also boyfriend got tested 2x still negative. How is this possible?

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Interpretation Provides Information To Assist In Interpretation Of The Test Results

This assay detects IgG-class antibodies to type-specific herpes simplex virus glycoprotein G and may allow for the differentiation of infection caused by HSV types 1 and 2. The presence of IgG-class antibodies to HSV types 1 or 2 indicates previous exposure and does not necessarily indicate that HSV is the causative agent of an acute illness.

The Bottom Line: Tests For Herpes Are More Worry Than They’re Worth

Herpes (Oral HSV1) Quick Test 20pack

If you do have symptoms, don’t fret: If you know your status, you’re at an advantage in that you can talk with your doctor and find an antiviral drug that works for you. Medication can curtail the severity of your symptoms, as well as the number of outbreaks you get. Additionally, taking an antiviral daily will greatly reduce your chances of transmitting the virus to someone else. In case you missed it, there’s also a very promising new drug for herpes on the horizon, which researchers say could be the most effective one yet.

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