When Do You Need A Herpes Antibodies Test
Herpes antibodies tests are not recommended when your doctor wants to diagnose an active infection. The best tests, in this case, are to collect a sample from you and attempt to culture the virus or test for the presence of its genome using a technique called polymerase chain reaction .
Should an active infection be detected with a PCR test, your doctor may prescribe antiviral medications to help prevent outbreaks or shorten their severity. When outbreaks occur when you are on these medications, theyâre typically shorter and create fewer lesions than when you arenât taking them.
Common antiviral medications include acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir.
Your doctor may recommend an antibody test in addition to these other tests for an active infection. But it is more likely that they will recommend this test for another reason, including if:
- You have recurring symptoms but active test results are negative.
- You believe you were recently exposed but donât yet have symptoms.
- Youâre pregnant or trying to become pregnant.
- You have HIV or have a high risk of encountering HIV.
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Some research has shown that two-step testing might improve the specificity that is avoid false positive results for the blood test which would be a great thing because these diagnoses create great anxiety and concern for people, he said. In a commentary accompanying the USPSTF guidelines, Hook expressed disappointment that herpes testing had barely improved over the past decade.
There is no perfect test but there are ways to reduce the inaccuracies and reduce the number of equivocal results and those are actively used in other diseases, he said in an interview with STAT. But they havent been used very aggressively for the purpose of herpes.
In the absence of sure-fire test advances, education and a lessening stigma surrounding herpes might help, not only by reducing test-related confusion, but potentially by bringing discussion of the virus out into the mainstream, said Hook.
Theres no major herpes advocacy group, he said. People call attention to diseases that they suffer from, but people with herpes dont feel they can call attention to it. And that creates a lot of suffering.
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When Are Herpes Tests Accurate
In the table below, we summarize information about the timing of herpes testing.
One of the most important factors in any infectious disease testing is doing it at the right time. This means two things in the case of herpes:
- For the blood test to be accurate, the right amount of time needs to have passed
- The swab test should be done while symptoms are âfreshâ
For each available herpes test, we will mention:
- The earliest testing time
- The ideal testing time
|Test type||Ideal time|
|Swab||The swab test may be performed as soon as the first blisters appear .Technique: A doctor scrapes the fresh lesion, collecting skin and fluid. To get accurate test results, this should be done within 48 hours of the appearance of the lesion .Note that technique and timing are important. This test is not commonly done for that reason,|
|Blood test for IgG||
||12 weeks after the initial exposure, over 92% of infected people are positive|
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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.
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What Else Do I Need To Know Before I Appear For An Hsv Igg Test
The following points can be noted in order to develop a clearer idea about the test and the results. The IgG test does not identify the virus in the blood and false-positive results may happen. You might be infected by a virus that generates similar antibodies that may react with the herpes test. Before the test, the doctor should be informed about any other viral infections in the recent past or specific medications that you might be consuming because of that. The virus can infect the eyes, resulting in a condition called herpes simplex keratitis. Without the right treatment, this may cause significant loss of vision with time. In infection of the virus in the brain is termed as herpes encephalitis and can lead to a serious condition involving seizures and mental confusion. In such cases, a sample of the cerebrospinal fluid will have to be collected for further testing. Once the infection is detected, the doctor can suggest steps to prevent the recurrence of the disease and also to prevent the chances of spreading it to another person. It has been noted that herpes can make patients more susceptible to HIV infections and statistics indicate that up to 90% of HIV-infected individuals are co-infected with the HSV-2 virus.
What Are Herpes Antibodies
Antibodies are proteins the body makes to help fight infection and prevent future infections.
HSV-1 and HSV-2 antibodies are proteins that have formed due to the presence of the HSV-1 or HSV-2 virus. An immunoglobulin G blood test detects these proteins in the blood and can tell if a person has ever experienced an infection with either virus.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do not recommend herpes testing for people without symptoms. There is no evidence that having a herpes diagnosis changes peoples sexual behavior and prevents herpes from spreading.
People who are pregnant may wish to have a herpes antibody test. A baby can contract herpes during vaginal childbirth. Herpes can be life threatening to newborn babies.
People may also wish to have a herpes antibody test if they:
- have had sexual contact with someone with herpes
- have a specific clinical reason for determining their HSV status
- have another reason for wanting to know their HSV status, such as having multiple sexual partners
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Is It A New Or Recurrent Infection
Herpes IgM levels tend to go up early in an infection, and levels often go down with time. This means a positive herpes IgM result is most often associated with a new infection. However, individuals with recurrent herpes infections may also have positive herpes IgM blood results.
Individuals may not have a positive immunoglobulin G test, an antibody test that detects IgG, until they’ve been infected for at least several months. However, IgG levels tend to remain high throughout the course of an infection, while IgM levels are more variable.
This means that if an individual has positive results on both IgG and IgM tests, they may be having a recurrent herpes episode, instead of a new infection. A positive IgM test alone is more likely to be a new infection.
What Is The Hsv
The test for the virus can be conducted for the IgG as well as the IgM antibodies. The main difference between the two is that IgM appears first after the infection but it may disappear with time, while IgG remains in the blood for life. The IgM test can deliver deceptive test results in certain conditions and it cannot distinguish between the HSV-1 and the HSV-2 viruses. So the IgG test is considered as the more reliable test for confirmation of the infection. But the time taken for IgG antibodies to reach a detectable level varies from one person to the other. Ideally, a waiting period of 12 to 16 weeks after the last infection is considered before undertaking the test. At present, there is no specific cure for herpes. Once the presence of the virus is determined by the blood test, the symptoms are checked by various medications.
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Acute Vs Chronic Infection
An acute EBV infection, also called a primary infection, causes mono. The associated symptoms usually resolve within weeks of catching the virus however, some symptoms may last longer .
After the symptoms go away, the virus is contained and enters a dormant phase wherein it stops reproducing itself and spreading.
Chronic active EBV disease is a rare disorder in which a person is unable to successfully fight and contain the virus .
It is defined as a chronic illness, lasting longer than 3 months, in which a patient has high levels of EBV DNA in their blood in the absence of a weak immune system .
Symptoms of the disease mirror many of those of an acute infection, such as fever and swollen lymph glands. More serious complications such as an enlarged spleen and low red blood cell, white blood cell, and platelet counts occur frequently in these patients .
Most of those with a chronic infection will test negative for EBNA antibodies, or they may have very low levels .
Over time, their immune systems may fail, and if left untreated, they will develop opportunistic infections, multiorgan failure, and cancer .
The only effective treatment for chronic active EBV is bone marrow transplantation .
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I Have Symptoms But My Hsv 2 Blood Test Was Negative
Although HSV 2 is the most common infection that causes genital herpes, the HSV 1 virus can also cause the same signs and symptoms. Most of the time HSV 1 presents itself as an active infection by the presence of cold sores or fever blisters around the mouth. These will last for about 10-14 days in most individuals and created crusted sores in the corner of the mouth that can make it very painful to eat.
If an individual with an active HSV 1 infection of the mouth performs oral sex on their partner, then this can create an active genital herpes infection. If this happens, then the HSV 2 blood test could be negative because a different herpes virus has caused the bothersome symptoms.
The HSV 2 blood test has also been known to create false positive results from time to time. If this blood test is positive, but you do not have any known genital herpes outbreaks, did not have a positive culture test, and did not have a positive PCR result, then an immunoblot test may be necessary to confirm a diagnosis. If the immunoblot test is given, a test result that is higher than 1.1 is generally considered to be a strong indication of the presence of herpes.
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What Can I Do About Genital Herpes
So heres the good news: herpes is rarely a serious health issue. Although there can be a negative stigma associated with those who have an outbreak and the blistering sores may change sexual habits, a majority of those infected have no symptoms at all.
If you do request a herpes blood test, ask if your doctor is going to be performing a type-specific test. These blood tests tend to be more reliable.
Should the blood test come back as positive, how your treatment plan develops will depend on other health conditions that may be affecting you. Suppressive therapies and other medication may be ordered, but in some patients, careful watching and waiting may be the best solution. If suppressive therapies are ordered, this will mean taking a drug every day that youll have to pay for.
Genital herpes can be detected with a herpes blood test. If no symptoms are being experienced, your doctor may wish to hold off on testing to avoid a false positive. And, if youre concerned about your sexual health for any reason, schedule an appointment with your doctor right away.
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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Is It Possible To Get A False Positive Result
A false positive is when a test says you have a condition that you actually don’t have. This can happen with the herpes IgM blood test.
In some cases you may not be infected at all. However, you may have a different virus that triggers a positive on this blood test. This may include the Epstein-Barr virus, which is in the herpes virus family, or parvovirus, a contagious virus that can lead to flu-like symptoms.
If you don’t have symptoms, you may want to go back for IgG testing at a later date. If you do have symptoms, your healthcare provider can test the sores for herpes directly with a swab test.
A positive result is more likely to be accurate if you have or have had symptoms of a herpes outbreak.
What Happens During An Hsv Test
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 won’t 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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When To Talk With A Doctor
Talk with a doctor if you notice any sores on or around your genitals. Other STIs, like syphilis, can look like herpes but need different treatment. Treatment is needed to prevent complications and transmission.
Your doctor will let you know whether you should test for herpes or another STI, and they can help you get treatment if needed.
Why Do I Need To Undergo An Hsv Igm Test
The following conditions are some of the most common reasons for the test. To figure out the exact reason behind the formation of painful blisters or sores around the lips or in the genital area. To check if the sexual partner of a person with genital herpes is also infected by the same. To check for neonatal herpes in new-borns, whose mothers are infected with genital herpes. The doctor will check the physical symptoms of the infection and order for the test. Some of the common symptoms are mentioned below. The occurrence of blistering sores in the mouth or on the genitals Any pain during urination. An itching or burning sensation around the affected area. These symptoms can be accompanied by other general symptoms like fever, swollen lymph nodes, headaches, tiredness and lack of appetite. In some cases, HSV can also affect the eyes and can cause symptoms like eye pain, discharge, and a gritty feeling in the eye. A few people have an increased risk of infection from the virus as mentioned below. People with recurrent genital sores or atypical symptoms who have negative results on HSV culture. People who have a sex partner who has been diagnosed with genital herpes. People who have been tested positive for other sexually transmitted diseases. Individuals diagnosed with an HIV infection.
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