The Blood Tests Do Have A Lot Of Value But Here Are The Biggest Issues:
About 50% of the population has type 1 herpes. Type 1 can be genital or oral. If you have never had symptoms and obtain an IgG based type-specific blood test , and the test comes back positive for type 1, we have no way of knowing whether you are infected orally, genitally, or both. The only way we can know which location is infected is by symptoms.
About 30% of negative results for HSV 1 are false negatives. This means if you test negative, you might still have HSV 1.
If you are positive for type 2 and fall within a positive range of 1.1 – 3.5, theres a decent chance this is a false positive. About 50% of positives that fall in this range are in error, with the closer you get to 3.5 the more likely you are positive and the closer to 1.1 the less likely you are positive. There can be false positives above 3.5 as well but theyre less likely. If you do test positive within this low range, the CDC recommends confirmatory testing. The most accurate confirmatory blood test is the Western Blot. The Western Blot is more complicated to obtain and your insurance may not cover it. In addition, many doctors do not know about the high false positive rate within this range so they incorrectly diagnose their patients without getting confirmation. I have worked with a number of patients diagnosed within this range who I encouraged to follow up with the Western Blot and they discovered they were negative.
Blood tests given too early after possible exposure can be false negative.
What Else Can I Do To Help With A Genital Herpes Outbreak
As well as taking medication to help with symptoms, you can also try:
- using an anaesthetic gel to numb your skin and ease any pain
- soaking the affected area with plain or salt water
- applying Vaseline to the affected area
- drinking plenty of fluids
- wearing loose clothing
- taking pain relief medications, like paracetamol or ibuprofen
The symptoms of herpes outbreaks will usually go away by themselves within 10 days as your immune system fights the infection on its own. You might find the sores painful during that time, so medication can help you by clearing up the infection more quickly.
If youd like to speak to one of our doctors about your symptoms, you can book a telephone consultation. Theyll be able to provide personalised advice on how to cope with genital herpes.
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Valtrex For Herpes Can Affect Oraquick Test
I recently was diagnosed with Herpes Ive yet to go get a blood test done but I was put on Valtrex. I was so scared that I went and bought an Oraquick test I tested negative, two days later I still couldnt get it out of my mind and went and got two more tests while on Valtrex and all three said Negative. I know this question is asked over and over but, are my test conclusive even on Valtrex? My last exposure was 9 months ago if that wasnt clarified?
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There Are Two Common Blood Tests Used To Identify Herpes And Theyre Often Misleading
I had a patient once who underwent this test, which was positive, and was told she has herpes, which to her was devastating and life-altering, Friedman says. She burst into tears when I explained the significance or lack thereof with this test, which is very misleading. There are two common blood tests used to identify herpes: IgG and IgM. The IgM test is still used by some doctors even though it has been denounced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . According to the American Sexual Health Association , IgM tests can lead to deceptive results, as well as false assumptions about how and when a person acquired HSV.
And thats not all: IgM tests fail to accurately distinguish between HSV-1 and HSV-2 antibodies, leading them to provide false-positive results for HSV-2. In other words, if youve been exposed to oral herpes , results of the IgM test could lead you to believe youre positive for genital herpes, when in fact you simply have antibodies against HSV-1.
IgG tests, on the other hand, are more accurate, but arent without their own issues. For instance, ASHA says that while an IgG test can distinguish between HSV-1 and HSV-2, the problem is that the time it takes for IgG antibodies to reach a detectable level varies from person to person. This means that even with accurate results, someone could get a false-negative if they have the test administered too soon after contracting the virus .
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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.
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Best Convenient Herpes Test: Mylab Box
People can order at-home herpes tests from MyLAB Box. These kits contain instructions, a specimen bag, and a prepaid return envelope. Users may find this test convenient because of its quick turnaround for results and the option to book a free consultation and get treatment.
|doctor may prescribe treatment if test results are positive
|only tests for HSV-2
Once a person receives their collection kit, they can collect their sample using the instructions. They can then use the prepaid envelope to send it to the laboratory.
People should receive their results within 25 days. If the test is positive, they can book a free consultation with a doctor to discuss their results and treatment options. The doctor may then prescribe treatment.
This at-home test only works for people who wish to test for genital herpes. The company does not offer test kits for oral herpes.
The kit costs $89 as a stand-alone test, but the company also markets other kits that test for different infections. For example, if a person also wishes to test for other STIs, they can purchase the Total Box 14 Panel option or the Uber Box 8 Panel option.
Herpes Is Very Commonand Not Easy To Spread
The CDC estimates that between 2015 and 2016 nearly 50 percent of the population had HSV-1, which is typically associated with cold sores but can cause genital herpes through oral sex, and about 12 percent of the population had HSV-2, which is usually genital herpes. But if youve never had any herpes symptoms, youre highly unlikely to spread the disease since its most likely to spread during an outbreak. And even when people know they have herpes, studies show that the knowledge doesnt necessarily change their behavior. Meaning, if they were going to have unprotected sex anyway, knowing they have herpes wont stop them.
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How Is The Test Used
Herpes testing may be used a few different ways:
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend screening for herpes in the general population, but it may be helpful in some cases, such as:
- If you have signs and symptoms, such as genital sores that may be related to herpes
- If you have or had a sex partner with genital herpes
- If you would like to have a complete exam for sexually transmitted diseases , especially if you have multiple sex partners if this is the case, you should discuss STD testing with your healthcare practitioner.
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Does Medicare Cover At
Medicare does not cover at-home herpes tests. Medicare does not cover herpes testing at all, although it will cover testing for other STDs. It is possible that some at-home herpes tests can be covered by private insurance, and Nurx.com accepts Medicaid but only in three states . People who want to try to have their herpes test covered by insurance may be easier to go to their doctor or local STD clinic. Planned Parenthood and other Title X clinics may also offer free or low-cost STD testing, including testing for herpes. However, insurance coverage of herpes testing may be limited to people who have symptoms.
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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.
How Can Herpes Be Prevented
Correct and consistent use of latex condoms can reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of transmitting or acquiring genital herpes because herpes virus shedding can occur in areas that are not covered by a condom.25,26
The surest way to avoid transmission of STDs, including genital herpes, is to abstain from sexual contact, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested for STDs and is known to be uninfected.
Persons with herpes should abstain from sexual activity with partners when herpes lesions or other symptoms of herpes are present. It is important to know that even if a person does not have any symptoms, he or she can still infect sex partners. Sex partners of infected persons should be advised that they may become infected and they should use condoms to reduce the risk. Sex partners can seek testing to determine if they are infected with HSV.
Daily treatment with valacyclovir decreases the rate of HSV-2 transmission in discordant, heterosexual couples in which the source partner has a history of genital HSV-2 infection. 27 Such couples should be encouraged to consider suppressive antiviral therapy as part of a strategy to prevent transmission, in addition to consistent condom use and avoidance of sexual activity during recurrences.
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Doctors Dont 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. âI 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,â she says. âIf 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.â She adds that someone could be HSV-1-positive and either have or not have genital herpes. The result âdoesnt mean much, and it makes people go crazy.â
Hutchersonâs motto is pretty simple: Why stress yourself over something if you havenât seen anything especially when itâs something as common as herpes? âLetâs say they have a blood test come in positive but theyve never had a lesion. Now what? You may never get a lesion,â she says. Itâs 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. Letâs say you get tested anyway and it comes back positive, despite the fact that you have no symptoms. What do you do?
What Other Tests Are Ordered Along With Herpes Simplex Virus Test
Along with testing for antibodies against herpes infection, culture test is also ordered when a person has blisters on the genitals. HSV DNA testing is ordered when the patient may show signs and symptoms of encephalitis. Tests for screening for other STDs, especially HIV testing, is recommended as HSV infection can increase the risk of being infected with other sexually transmitted diseases .
HSV test requires no special preparation. The results are generally obtained within a day or two. Cultures generally take longer and reports are available within two or more days. The test is often ordered when a person is being screened for a previous exposure, has a history of STD, or is at a risk of infection.
Lab Test Report Reading
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Will I Have To Pay For The Test Out Of Pocket
Youll have to check with your insurance network to see whether at-home STI tests are covered.
Insurance does typically cover them, but sites like Everlywell recommend verifying the purchase with your insurance.
Additionally, some networks may reimburse you for your purchase.
However, most at-home testing sites arent currently partnered with any insurance companies, which means youll have to reach out yourself.
If you dont have insurance, youll likely have to pay for the test out of pocket. Some sites like Priority STD dont accept insurance, so its a flat rate of $99 regardless of your coverage.
Is There Anything Else I Should Know
Herpes can make people more susceptible to HIV infection. The skin lesions give other sexually transmitted diseases , including HIV, openings for entering the body. Likewise, it can make HIV-infected individuals more infectious. Infection with HSV can also increase HIV viral load. HSV-2 infection is a significant opportunistic infection in HIV-infected individuals due to immune system deficiencies up to 90% of HIV-infected individuals are co-infected with HSV-2.
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What Are The Symptoms Of The Herpes Simplex Virus
In most cases of infection with the herpes simplex virus, you wonât have any symptoms at all or theyâll be very mild. Typically, your first outbreak is the most severe. Symptoms will periodically come back, but studies show that these bouts are shorter and less symptomatic than the first.
Breakouts typically happen in the genital region when you have HSV-2 and near your lips when you have HSV-1. But you can also get HSV-1 infections in your genital region.
- Blisters that appear either individually or in clusters they can be quite painful and may ooze.
- Soreness, pain, and burning at the infection site
- Body aches and pains
How Do People Get Genital Herpes
Infections are transmitted through contact with HSV in herpes lesions, mucosal surfaces, genital secretions, or oral secretions. 5 HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be shed from normal-appearing oral or genital mucosa or skin. 7,8 Generally, a person can only get HSV-2 infection during genital contact with someone who has a genital HSV-2 infection. However, receiving oral sex from a person with an oral HSV-1 infection can result in getting a genital HSV-1 infection. 4 Transmission commonly occurs from contact with an infected partner who does not have visible lesions and who may not know that he or she is infected. 7 In persons with asymptomatic HSV-2 infections, genital HSV shedding occurs on 10.2% of days, compared to 20.1% of days among those with symptomatic infections. 8
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Heres Why Doctors Dont Usually Test For Herpes
Its basically a SELF mantra at this point: Getting tested for sexually transmitted infections is hella important. Is it the most delightful way to spend your time? No. Is it a vital part of looking after your health, sexual and otherwise? Absolutely.
When you go in for routine STI testing, you might realize that your doctor doesnt test you for herpes. Whats that about? As it turns out, testing for herpes isnt as straightforward as testing for something like chlamydia or gonorrhea. Here, doctors explain why herpes isnt usually included on STI panels.
Why Doctors Dont Automatically Test You For Herpes
OK, clearly herpes is super common. So why dont doctors automatically test for it when you ask to get tested for everything? To answer that question, its important to understand the difference between STI testing and STI screening. Testing is done when you have symptoms, whereas screening is done in the absence of symptomsjust to check to see if youve been exposed.
Doctors will screen for STIs such as gonorrhea and chlamydia even in the absence of symptoms. This is key from a public health perspective because catching these infections in time can prevent serious complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease. This happens when an untreated STI like gonorrhea or chlamydia infects reproductive organs, possibly leading to infertility.
Experts dont screen for herpes for a few reasons.
The U.S. Preventative Task Force has recommended against screening asymptomatic adolescents and adults for HSV infections. The rationale is that there is no health benefit thats been proven and there a couple of risks, Dr. Johnston says. One is a false positive test, and the second is a risk of anxiety is not associated with serious health outcomes, yet its still feared.
Even pregnant people who could theoretically risk passing the virus during childbirth are not screened unless they have a history of herpes outbreaks or a current outbreak, Peter Leone, M.D., of UNCs Institute of Global Health and Infectious Diseases, tells SELF.
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