Testing For Genital Herpes
If you think you may have genital herpes you should make an appointment with your GP or local sexual health services.
If there are symptoms present such as blisters, sores and ulcers, your doctor or nurse may be able to make a diagnosis straight away.
If you have visible blisters, your doctor or nurse may take a swab for testing, to check if this is herpes and what type. This swab can also test for another STI which causes blisters called syphilis.
The genital herpes swab tests is very reliable, though if the ulcer is too dry then the result may be less likely to find a positive result.
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How Test Accuracy Is Measure
The accuracy of all medical tests, including herpes tests, is measured based on two values: sensitivity and specificity.
Sensitivityis how often a test correctly identifies someone with a disease. A test that is 90% sensitive will correctly identify 90 people out of 100 who have the disease. Ten people will have a false-negative result.
Specificity, on the other hand, refers to a test’s ability to correctly identify someone who doesn’t have the disease. If a test is 90% specific, that means that 90 people out of 100 will be correctly diagnosed as not having a disease and that 10 people will have a false-positive result.
The higher the sensitivity and specificity, the lower the chances of a false result.
How Is An At Home Genital Herpes Test Performed
While there are a few different ways to test for herpes, the one thats usually used for home testing is a blood test. Sometimes known as a herpes rapid test, this is a blood test that looks for antibodies against the herpes virus. Antibodies are produced by your body in response to an infection. Having antibodies against the herpes virus means that youve been exposed to the virus.
You simply order a herpes rapid test kit online, and its sent to your home in discreet packaging that doesnt show whats inside. You take your blood sample yourself at home, using a fingerprick. After you send your sample back to the lab, herpes test online results will be available within a few days.
One benefit of doing the test at home is that it helps to maintain your privacy. Your results wont be reported to your insurance company, nor will they show up on a document called an explanation of benefits , which insurance companies routinely send after paying for something. Anyone who shares your insurance may be able to see the fact that you were tested on the EOB, even if they cant see your results. Testing at home helps to prevent this situation and keep your testing entirely private.
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The Different Types Of Herpes
Herpes, or the herpes simplex virus, is a highly contagious and common virus that causes cold sores and genital herpes. You may become infected with herpes simplex virus type 1 or herpes simplex virus type 2 . Each type of virus causes unique symptoms, so its important to understand their differences.
Can I Still Have Sex If I Have Herpes
If you have herpes, you should talk to your sex partner and let him or her know that you do and the risk involved. Using condoms may help lower this risk but it will not get rid of the risk completely. Having sores or other symptoms of herpes can increase your risk of spreading the disease. Even if you do not have any symptoms, you can still infect your sex partners.
You may have concerns about how genital herpes will impact your overall health, sex life, and relationships. It is best for you to talk to a health care provider about those concerns, but it also is important to recognize that while herpes is not curable, it can be managed with medication. Daily suppressive therapy for herpes can also lower your risk of spreading genital herpes to your sex partner. Be sure to discuss treatment options with your healthcare provider. Since a genital herpes diagnosis may affect how you will feel about current or future sexual relationships, it is important to understand how to talk to sexual partners about STDsexternal icon.
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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:
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.
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Best Subscription For Herpes Test: Letsgetchecked
The LetsGetChecked home kits can test for both HSV-1 and HSV-2. This test kit may be best for people who require regular testing as the companys subscription options can offer significant discounts.
|nurses available through LetsGetChecked to discuss positive results|
|tests for both HSV-1 and HSV-2|
|Con||does not accept insurance|
A person receives a collection kit with all the tools they need to collect their samples at home. This includes needles, a prepaid envelope, alcohol swabs, and a tube. The tests come in discreet packaging so that other people will not know what the person has received.
The person also has access to an instruction video on the company website that explains how they should take their test. LetsGetChecked suggests that people take a blood sample before 9 a.m. and return it to the laboratory on the same day.
The company states that it issues the results within 25 days.
Individuals who receive a positive result can contact a nurse through the company, and they may suggest a treatment plan.
LetsGetChecked offers a one-time purchase for $119. Anyone who requires regular testing can purchase a LetsGetChecked subscription and get discounts on its tests. For instance, a 3-monthly subscription will give a person a 30% saving on the cost of the kits.
More Information About Oral & Genital Herpes Testing
How Did I Get Herpes Simplex Virus?
HSV-1 is often transmitted through kissing, sexual contact, oral secretions, sharing personal objects liketoothbrushes, and direct contact with herpes sores. HSV-2 is seldom spread in ways other than sex and directcontact with genitals of someone who is herpes-positive. Those who have herpes often do not display symptoms atfirst. It can take weeks, months, or even years before symptoms appear, which aids the virus in spreading.
Though its important to always practice safe sex, herpes can occasionally be transmitted even when usingprotection. This is why its important to have an open and honest conversation with your partner about theirstatus, to be aware of the symptoms to look out for and to understand that herpes can be contracted even when nosymptoms are present.
Do You Use a Blood or Urine Sample to Test for Herpes?
The herpes type 1 and 2 type-specific antibody test requires a blood sample to be taken. This type oftesting is the most accurate and reliable option available.
How do I Prepare to Test for Herpes Simplex Virus?
No preparation is necessary prior to testing, including fasting or appointments.
When Should I Test for HSV-1 & HSV-2?
If youre experiencing symptoms, get tested immediately! If youre not experiencing symptoms, our cliniciansrecommend waiting at least four weeks after potential exposure to the herpes virus before getting tested to ensurehigher accuracy.
Herpes Test Results Explained
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Can Herpes Show Up In A Urine Test
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Can Herpes Simplex Virus Cause Serious Infections
Yes. The most serious, or life-threatening, HSV infections can occur in newborns who are infected during birth and in individuals with weakened immune systems , such as organ transplant recipients and people with HIV/AIDS. Neonatal herpes is a serious condition, but also very rare. While 25-30% of pregnant women have genital herpes, less than 0.1% of babies born in the U.S. each year get neonatal herpes. This means that most women with genital herpes give birth to healthy babies.
HSV lesions tend to be more extensive and persist longer in newborns and immunocompromised people than in individuals who have healthy immune systems.
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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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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.
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Can I Take The Test At Home
At-home tests are available to test for evidence of an HSV infection. At-home herpes testing typically detects HSV antibodies in a self-collected sample of blood and may require additional follow-up if preliminary results are positive. At-home herpes tests can be obtained online or at a local pharmacy.
How Can I Prevent Transmitting Herpes
Although latex condoms can reduce the risk of transmitting most STIs by 98 percent, condoms dont prevent herpes transmission. This is because not all herpes sores occur in areas that are covered by a condom.
If youre experiencing an active outbreak, you can
- avoiding sexual activity until symptoms go away
- washing your hands thoroughly and applying medication with cotton swabs to reduce contact with sores
Taking a daily antiviral herpes medication can also help prevent transmission, shorten outbreaks, and manage symptoms.
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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.
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 âasleepâ , and cause no symptoms, or it may flare up and cause symptoms. This test cannot tell whether you are having a flare-up.
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How Soon After Unprotected Sex Can I Test For Herpes
Herpes has an incubation period of 2 to 12 days for initial infections. This means it can take 12 days for it to show on a test. The symptoms can appear quickly after exposure. This leaves a short window of time within which to do a swab test. Blood tests can however be accurate even months after exposure. You can wait either until symptoms appear or allow the incubation period to end before performing a blood test after unprotected sex.
If you test positive for herpes, it will be a lifelong condition. This applies to both HPV 1 and HPV 2. There is no need to retest if confirmed positive. Simply manage the symptoms as they come.
How Do Doctors Test For Stds
How does a doctor test to see if you have STDs?Perry*
There are different tests for different sexually transmitted diseases . The kind of test a person gets will depend on the type of STD, symptoms , and his or her medical and sexual history.
To get this history, a doctor or nurse practitioner will ask about things like how many partners the person has had. After that, the doctor or NP will examine the persons genitals. For girls who have symptoms of STDs, this might include a pelvic exam. Girls who do not have symptoms and are just getting screened for STDs as part of a routine checkup probably wont need a pelvic exam.
Based on whats learned from the interview and exam, the doctor or NP may take one or more of these samples:
- a swab of the inside of the mouth
- a swab from the genitals, such as the urethra in guys or the cervix in girls
- a swab of any discharge or sores
Sometimes, the sample can be tested right there in the health providers office. Other times, the sample is sent to a lab and the results come later. It depends on the office and the type of infection doctors are testing for.
STDs can be sneaky. Often there are no signs that a person has one. Thats not necessarily a good thing. These hidden STDs can still put people at risk for health problems. Anyone who is having sex should get tested.
*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.
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When Should I Get Tested For Herpes
If you think you have been exposed to herpes, then you should get tested 12 days after exposure. Herpes has an incubation period of 2 to 12 days, so may not show up on a test before then. Otherwise, you should get tested for herpes when you have visible symptoms, such as blisters, as this can confirm whether your symptoms are the result of a herpes infection.
What Affects The Test
Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:
- If a culture sample is taken from a crusted, older sore.
- If a blood sample is taken before antibodies against HSV have formed. This period is called the window period or seroconversion period.
- If you are taking antiviral medicines, such as acyclovir, famciclovir, ganciclovir, or valacyclovir.
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Herpes Diagnosis And Treatment
If you think you might have genital herpes, itâs a good idea to get tested. You can make an appointment with your healthcare provider or a clinic in your areaâor you can take an at-home STD test.
While there is no cure for either herpes type, antiviral medications can effectively reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms. Medications can also minimize the risk of transmitting the herpes virus to someone else.
The Everlywell at-home STD test checks for 6 common STDs, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis C, HIV, syphilis, and trichomoniasis. Your healthcare provider may consider your symptoms along with your test results to arrive at a diagnosis.