Blood Tests For Asymptomatic Herpes
If you do not have an active outbreak of herpes blisters, your medical provider can still test to determine if you have previously been infected with either herpes simplex virus.
But, the incubation period for herpes is up to 12 days, so your doctor may recommend waiting to perform a blood test until it has been at least that long since you were exposed to the virus.
If you are tested too soon after exposure, you may get a false negative result because the immune system has not yet had time to produce antibodies
The results can indicate whether you have been exposed to one or both viruses.
It is not possible to know from a blood test whether you are currently contagious with herpes, only that you have previously been infected.
It is also possible to get at-home testing kits.
These use a lancet to prick your finger and take a small blood sample, which can identify whether you have been exposed to HSV-1 or HSV-2.
If you want an at-home kit, make sure you ask your medical provider for a recommendation, as some test kits do not check for both HSV-1 and HSV-2.
Treatment If The Blisters Come Back
Go to a GP or sexual health clinic if you have been diagnosed with genital herpes and need treatment for an outbreak.
Antiviral medicine may help shorten an outbreak by 1 or 2 days if you start taking it as soon as symptoms appear.
But outbreaks usually settle by themselves, so you may not need treatment.
Recurrent outbreaks are usually milder than the first episode of genital herpes.
Over time, outbreaks tend to happen less often and be less severe. Some people never have outbreaks.
Some people who have more than 6 outbreaks in a year may benefit from taking antiviral medicine for 6 to 12 months.
If you still have outbreaks of genital herpes during this time, you may be referred to a specialist.
Useful Methods Include Testing An Actual Lesion
Keep in mind that there’s no such thing as “safe” sex, only safer sex, which means using protection and being open and honest with your partner. “It can definitely happen,” Friedman says of the chances of transmitting the virus to a partner without a visible outbreak. “Its called asymptotic shedding there are studies showing that the rates of transmission of HSV-2 are the same for symptomatic and asymptomatic.” He adds that this is why using protection during sexual contact is so important, regardless of what blood tests say. Unfortunately, you can never ensure your risk of transmission will be zero, whether or not you know you have herpes, but using a condom or dental dam will get you closer to it.
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Who Response To Herpes
As well as increasing awareness about HSV infection and its symptoms, improved access to antiviral medications and heightened HIV prevention efforts for those with genital HSV symptoms are needed globally.
In addition, development of better treatment and prevention interventions is needed, particularly HSV vaccines. WHO and partners are working to accelerate research to develop new strategies for prevention and control of genital and neonatal HSV-1 and HSV-2 infections. Such research includes the development of HSV vaccines and topical microbicides. Several candidate vaccines and microbicides are currently being studied.
Where Can I Get Tested For Herpes
You can get tested for herpes and other STDs at your doctors office, a community health clinic, the health department, or your local Planned Parenthood health center.
STD testing isnt usually part of your regular checkup or gynecologist exam you have to ask for it. Be honest with your nurse or doctor so they can help you figure out which tests are best for you. Dont be embarrassed: Your doctor is here to help you, not to judge you.
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Herpes Is Rarely Serious
Herpes is an extremely common and widely feared infection, but in most cases itÃ¢s not very serious. Ã¢Most genital herpes infections are asymptomatic and the fear of herpes is more psychological than it is physical,Ã¢ H. Hunter Handsfield, MD, a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle and a nationally recognized STD expert, tells Health. Ã¢ItÃ¢s basically just a skin disease.Ã¢
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Herpes sores can affect many areas of the body, including the mouth, genitals, and eyes. Knowing what herpes looks like across the body can help people diagnose the condition.
Herpes is a skin condition caused by the herpes simplex virus. The symptoms include sores that come and go over time. Different types of herpes affect different body parts.
This article will explain what herpes is, how people get it, and what herpes looks like with pictures.
Most people with HSV are asymptomatic, meaning they will not experience any symptoms. Others will notice sores or lesions. These sores look like blisters filled with fluid. Over a few days, the sores break open, ooze, and form a crust before healing.
People may also notice a tingling, itching, or burning feeling a few days before the sores appear. Some people may also experience flu-like symptoms, such as:
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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 Kaposiâs sarcoma . KS primarily affects people with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS and organ transplant recipients.
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Herpes Drugs Dont Stop Herpes Shedding
Got Genital Herpes? Youre Still Infectious, Even if Drugs Cut Symptoms
Even when they dont have an active herpes outbreak, people who carry genital herpes viruses are at risk of infecting their sex partners. With the discovery of drugs that prevent herpes outbreaks, there was hope that the drugs would also prevent herpes transmission. But theres been troubling evidence that this may not be true.
Now University of Washington researcher Christine Johnston, MD, and colleagues show that people with no herpes symptoms often shed infectious genital herpes virus even while taking very high doses of anti-herpes drugs.
Short episodes of genital shedding occur frequently with antiviral therapy, even for high-dose regimens, Johnston and colleagues report. These breakthrough episodes are typically , last several hours, and occur at much the same rate irrespective of antiviral dose.
One in 5 Americans and Europeans carries HSV-2, the virus that causes most cases of genital herpes HSV-1 causes some cases. Most people have few, if any, of genital herpes painful symptoms: blisters on or around the genitals or rectum.
Theres no cure for herpes infections. Thats because herpes viruses travel up nerves to take up latent form in the nerve root. Powerful anti-herpes drugs acyclovir , famciclovir , and valacyclovir prevent most outbreaks in most people. But they dont eliminate virus hiding in nerve cells.
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How Soon Can You Be Tested
The incubation period for herpes is 2 to 12 days, which means that the best time to get tested for the herpes virus if you havent had an initial outbreak is after 12 days. If youre worried that youve been exposed to herpes but have not yet been diagnosed, here are some steps you can take:
- If youre currently sexually active, stop all sexual activity until you can receive a formal diagnosis.
- Reach out to your doctor and schedule an appointment for once the incubation period is up.
- If youre having an outbreak, you dont have to wait to get tested. Its possible to receive a diagnosis based on the lesions.
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.
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I Just Recieved A Positive Test For Hsv
Since i’m postingin this discussion you can geuss what came back postive. HSV-2.
The worst part was having to tell my girlfriend that i had this and she probably does too, BUT ater she went and got tested her results came back NEGATIVE.
So now I am left here, told that I have HSV-2 without ever having an outbreak and with my girlfriend, who i’ve made gentail open wound contact with , that is negative and don’t know what to do.
I am an out of state student so i was tested through the student health services and probably going to try and find another doctor to get tested again.
I guess my qeustion here is: is this normal ? Could there have been a mistake in my diagnoses? Can we continue to have sex like we have been doing ?
Type Of Tests Used To Diagnose Herpes
There are four main types of diagnostic tests that can be used to diagnose herpes. Your doctor will determine which type of test to use based on whether an outbreak is present or not.
If youre experiencing what you believe to be a herpes outbreak, your doctor can use a viral culture test or virus antigen detection test. If youre not experiencing symptoms, you can have an antibody test.
- Viral culture test.This test is used to determine if a sore contains the herpes virus. This test can sometimes produce a false-negative, meaning that it may not detect the virus even though its present.
- Virus antigen detection test. This test is used to determine if antigens to the herpes virus are present in a sore or lesion.
- Antibody test. If youre not experiencing an outbreak yet but still believe you may have been exposed, you can opt to have an antibody test performed. This test will only show a positive result if the antibodies to the virus have been developed. Therefore, this test isnt necessarily recommended for recent exposure.
- Polymerase chain reaction test. With this test, a healthcare provider can screen a sample of your blood or tissue from a sore. They can use this to determine if HSV is present and which type you have.
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Is Genital Herpes Related To Shingles
Shingles, also called herpes zoster, is caused by the varicella zoster virus , which causes chickenpox earlier in life. The natural history of varicella zoster infection is similar to genital herpes infection in that VZV also becomes latent in the sensory nerve roots. Later in life the virus may exit, causing shingles.
Recurrences in shingles cause blister lesions in a single area of skin called a dermatome. Shingles is not a sexually transmitted infection and is independent from genital herpes.
How Do The Tests Work
HSV tests detect IgG and immunoglobulin M antibodies. IgG antibodies are present soon after infection with HSV and remain in the blood for life. A test result showing IGg antibodies will tell a person that they have experienced an infection in the past and that they have antibodies against the virus.
IgM antibodies appear before IgG antibodies but may disappear when the infection is inactive. Testing for IgM antibodies is not a useful way to distinguish between primary and recurrent episodes of HSV infection. Therefore, doctors do not recommend IgM testing.
A positive herpes antibody test cannot tell people where they have HSV infection or when they contracted the infection. It cannot tell if a person was capable of passing on the infection at the time of the test, nor can it tell if specific symptoms are due to herpes.
Once a sample comes back from laboratory analysis, a person will receive one of the following results:
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A Note About Suppressive Therapy For Genital Herpes
If you do test positive, taking an anti-viral drug regularly may help you avoid outbreaks and reduce viral shedding, which means you’re less likely to infect a partner. The drugs are fairly benign, says Dr. Marrazzo, but she questions whether it’s really worth treating a relatively harmless, incurable infection if it’s causing you no symptoms in the first place.
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Where Does The Herpes Virus Live In The Body
The herpes simplex viruses are latent, meaning they can live in the body without causing symptoms. After the initial infection, the virus gets into the nerve roots and spreads to the sensory nerve ganglia, the junctions where nerves from different parts of the body come together. For the genital area, the ganglia are adjacent to the spinal cord in the lower back. For orofacial herpes , the ganglia are located behind the cheek bone.
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What Are The Risks Associated With Herpes
If you have symptoms for Herpes, the use of condoms might not protect your sexual partner from getting the virus from your infected areas that are not covered by the condom. Therefore, it is advised to abstain from sex if you have symptoms.
Neonatal Herpes can occur in rare cases and might lead to lasting neurologic disability or even death of the infant. Pregnant women who get their first viral infection during late pregnancy are at a higher risk of acquiring the disease than those infected prior to pregnancy.
The symptoms and pains associated with recurrence of Herpes might lead to psychological distress, which could negatively affect the quality of life and sexual relationships of infected individuals.
If Herpes is left untreated, there is an increased risk of getting other sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
What Happens During A Herpes Antibody Test
There are different tests for HSV. Doctors will choose a test based on a persons health history and symptoms. Options include the following:
- Swab test: A healthcare professional uses a swab to take a sample of fluid and cells from a herpes sore. They then order a PCR test or viral culture to determine whether HSV is present. This is the most reliable way to test for HSV. Doctors normally do this as standard procedure before ordering any other sort of test.
- Blood test: A healthcare professional uses a needle to take a small amount of blood from a vein in a persons arm.
- Lumbar puncture: Doctors may use this method if they suspect a person has an infection in the brain or spinal cord. It involves numbing the skin of the lower spine and inserting a thin, hollow needle between two vertebrae to collect cerebrospinal fluid.
A doctor will send samples to a laboratory for testing and a person should get their results within a few days.
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What Abnormal Results Mean
A positive test means you have been infected with HSV recently or at some point in the past.
Tests can be done to help determine if you have a recent infection.
About 70% of adults have been infected by HSV-1 and have antibodies against the virus. About 20 to 50% of adults will have antibodies against the HSV-2 virus, which causes genital herpes.
HSV stays in your system once you have been infected. It may be Ã¢asleepÃ¢ , and cause no symptoms, or it may flare up and cause symptoms. This test cannot tell whether you are having a flare-up.
How Does Genital Herpes Spread
Herpes can be spread when an infected person has lesions blisters and open sores on their body or when you do not have any symptoms. Taking antiviral medicine can help you reduce the risk of spreading genital herpes to your sexual partners. You can also:
- Inform your sexual partner that you have genital herpes.
- Use a condom every time you have sex.
- Refrain from having sex when you have symptoms.
- Abstain from performing oral sex if you have blisters or open sores around your mouth.
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