What Should You Do If You Test Positive
If you test positive for HSV but no symptoms are present, just monitor yourself for symptoms! You have the advantage of knowing what to expect, though some live their whole lives without experiencing any symptoms at all.
A positive HSV test will only tell you what type of herpes you have: HSV-1 or HSV-2. A herpes test will not tell when you developed the virus or who transmitted it to you. Some instinctually blame their partner for cheating or giving it to them, but remember to not place blame, because you may have acquired it long ago and even the CDC thinks that its not that big of a deal!
If you are experiencing symptoms, you may be eligible to be prescribed medication, so you could receive treatment though there is no cure.3 As time goes on, the frequency of outbreaks lessen and become less harsh to the point where you may even never experience outbreaks anymore.
Why Is Testing Recommended Only In These Areas
When a herpes outbreak occurs, the blistering and rawness that appears around the genitals, rectum, or mouth can be very painful. The sores which appear when an outbreak occurs can take weeks to heal properly. The herpes blood test can provide your medical provider with information about what can be expected in the future. This would include what medications would be necessary to control symptoms and how you could lower the risks of spreading the infection to a partner.
If you know that you have or had a sexual partner with genital herpes, this testing can tell if you also have the virus. For women who are pregnant, this blood test is very important because the fetus can become infected with HSV-1 or HSV-2 if the mother is infected. This can place the pregnancy at risk and in babies, a herpes infection can even be fatal.
Take Charge Of Your Sexual Health
If you think you have been tested, but dont know what youve been tested for, theres a good chance that you werent tested at all. Similarly, I got tested for everything is never what you want to hear when your partner is talking about STD testing. In general, when someone says that, it means that they dont know what STDs they have been tested for.
If you have been tested for STDs and received a positive or negative result from your healthcare provider, its important for you to ask exactly what you were tested for. It may turn out you were only tested for one disease, such as HIV or chlamydia.
In short, if you want to know whether you are free of STDs, you should ask for the tests you want.
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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.
Whens The Right Time To Get Tested For Stds
STDs have different incubation periods. People react differently to STDs, with some people able to produce antibodies as early as a few days after exposure. To get reliable results, youll want to get tested after these incubation periods:
- chlamydia : 7 to 21 days
- gonorrhea : 1 to 14 days
- syphilis: 3 weeks to 20 years
- hepatitis A: 15 to 50 days
- hepatitis B: 60 to 150 days
- hepatitis C: 2 to 26 weeks
- oral herpes: 2 to 12 days
- genital herpes: 2 to 12 days
- HPV: 1 month to 10 years
trichomoniasis: 5 to 28 days
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Sydney Sweeney Chopped Her Hair Into A Lob And Said Goodbye To The Middle Part
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.
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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What Happens During A Herpes Test
If you have blisters or sores, your doctor or nurse will gently take a sample of fluid from the sores with a swab and test it.
If you dont have any sores, talk with your doctor or nurse about whether a blood test for herpes makes sense for you. But herpes tests aren’t normally recommended unless you do have symptoms.
The idea of getting tested may seem scary, but try to chill out. STD testing is a regular part of being a responsible adult and taking care of your health. And herpes tests are quick and usually painless.
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.
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What Are Reportable Stis
Most STI testing is carried out confidentially, which means your results are not shared with anyone, and most testing is completely anonymous if you go to a clinic.
In B.C., syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and HIV are reportable STIs. This means that positive results are reported to public health to help prevent the spread of STIs. This information is stored securely and kept confidential. Learn more about confidentiality.
If you test positive for a reportable STI, anyone you have had sexual contact with or shared drug equipment with needs to be told that they may have been exposed to an STI. They can be told by you, a health care provider, or anonymously.
Nonetheless Asymptomatic Individuals Can Still Pass Herpes On And You Could Be One Of Them Even If You Obtain Regular Std Testing
Many doctors also don’t inform patients that the test is not included, so when people do have symptoms and receive a diagnosis, there can be feelings of confusion and worry about whether a partner was dishonest or cheated, when their partner simply may not have known about the infection. In fact, by the time some people are diagnosed, it can be very difficult to determine how long they’ve had the infection. This means they may not have contracted it from their current partner.
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What Stis Should I Be Tested For
According to CDC guidelines :
- Anyone ages 13 to 64 should be tested for HIV at least once in their life, as well as after any potential exposure.
- Sexually active women under 25 years old should be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia yearly.
- Women who are 25 years and older with multiple sexual partners or partners with an STD should get tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia yearly.
- Pregnant people should be tested for syphilis, HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C, and high risk pregnant people should be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia in early pregnancy.
- Sexually active gay men, bisexual men, or other men who have sex with men should be tested for syphilis, chlamydia, HIV, and gonorrhea every 3 to 6 months if they have multiple or anonymous partners.
- Anyone who practices sex that could put them at risk of infection or who shares drug injection equipment should get tested for HIV yearly.
Which Stds Are Tested For During A Pap Smear & Well
Going to the doctor or OB/GYN for an annual exam can be stressful and uncomfortable enough without having to add the confusion of what all is going on to the appointment. We walk you through what typically occurs at a well-womans exam and Pap smear so that you know what to expect and which STD tests to ask your doctor for if they arent done automatically.
Who Should Get Tested For Herpes
According to the CDC, herpes testing is not recommended for those who do not show symptoms. There is no evidence that diagnosing genital herpes with a blood test in someone without symptoms would change their sexual behavior and stop the virus from spreading. 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.2
Though regular genital herpes testing is not recommended, STDcheck.com believes in giving everyone a choice and complete control over their sexual health. It could be beneficial for some to know if they are HSV-2 positive if any of the following apply:
- Genital symptoms related to genital herpes
- Have had sex with someone who is HSV-2 positive
- If it would bring peace of mind to know your complete sexual health status
It is recommended that pregnant women are tested for genital herpes because if symptoms are present at the time of childbirth, it can be incredibly harmful and potentially life-threatening to the baby. The baby will not usually incur an infection until coming into direct contact with the herpes lesions when passing through the birth canal. This is why its important to be aware of your status and make an informed decision about a potential C-section.
If You Get A Positive Result Don’t Panic It Really Doesn’t Mean Much
All of this is to say that unless you have symptoms consistent with the herpes virus, why put yourself through the emotional turmoil of getting a blood test that may or may not give you legit results? As Hutcherson notes, if you do get a blood test and it comes back positive but you’re asymptomatic, what does that mean for you if you have nothing to treat? For many, due to the high rate of stigma still surrounding herpes, it can mean feelings of self-contempt, humiliation, and distress, all of which could be avoided if you aren’t experiencing any symptoms.
To recap, while there are some tests for herpes that can prove correct, none are 100 percent perfect, and blood tests are particularly problematic since they can produce false positives and negatives. We also know that the majority of the population has some form of herpes, so IMO it’s a mystery as to why we’re still making a big deal out of it. No one likes blisters or sores, but neither does anyone love having acne, a widespread condition without the same level of attached shame.
Tingling Or Pain Before Blisters Form
If you know you’ve been exposed to herpes, you may want to watch for “prodromal” symptoms. “About 50% of people will have symptoms such as itching, tingling, or pain on genital skin before blisters or sores appear,” said Dr. Shim. Usually, you’ll experience an outbreak later, but it’s possible to have this tingling or itching and have no sores emerge.
Why You Should Get Std Testing
Many sexually transmitted diseases have no symptoms whatsoever, and some can have very serious complications if theyâre left untreated, such as infertility in both men and women. While most STDs can be cured with relative ease once they are diagnosed, some STDs can only be treated rather than cured. In some cases, such as with herpes, getting treated can help prevent you from passing the infection to another partner.
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How Can People Test For Herpes
A person can ask for a herpes test at any sexual health clinic or a doctors office. A healthcare professional will either swab a blister or draw a blood sample.
At-home herpes tests often require a blood sample through a finger prick.
Once a person receives their test results, they should contact a doctor to discuss treatment options, if necessary.
Which Stis Should I Get Tested For
STIs are not like allergies you cant do a massive test for all STIs. These tests are specific to each infection. Talk to your doctor about which STI tests you need. Certain STIs are more common than others, so your provider may suggest you get tested regularly for them.
Remember to be honest and open with your provider about your sexual history. They are there to help, not judge you. What you share will help your doctor choose the most appropriate tests for your circumstances so that your testing will not cost more than necessary. Your individual risk factors will determine exactly which tests are most important for you.
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Staying Safe While Avoiding Panic And Stigma
It can be tempting to freak out a little bit when you realize that herpes is both super-common and something you arent routinely getting tested for. So how do you process that information?
The first step is practicing the same safe sex that you know helps protect you from other STIs. Your best bet here is a barrier method like internal and external condoms for any penetration and physical shields such as dental dams for any oral play. Even though this wont fully protect you from herpes , it will reduce how much of your skin touches your partners.
This is why screening for herpes infection in the absence of any symptoms wouldnt really do much to cut back on casesthe advice would be the same: Practice safe sex with barrier methods. I agree right now with the recommendations not to screen people, but I think if we had a better diagnostic strategy, I would be much more in favor of routine screenings, Dr. Johnston says. It is important for people to know their status so they can protect themselves and their partners.
If you think you have herpes, see a doctor such as your ob/gyn or dermatologist , or go to your local health clinic. A medical expert can evaluate your symptoms, take samples for testing, and eventually offer treatment options if you need them.
You will likely be started on antiviral medications to help you heal faster and make you less contagious, Dr. Bard says.
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 person’s 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 won’t need a pelvic exam.
Based on what’s 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 provider’s 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. That’s 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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