How Often Are Blood Tests For Herpes Wrong
Meanwhile, the CDC and the US Preventive Services Task Force concur that the most widely available herpes test, called HerpeSelect, should not be used to screen asymptomatic people because of its high risk of false positives: Up to 1 in 2 positive tests could be false, according to the USPSTFs most recent guidelines.
Doctors Don’t 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. “I 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,” she says. “If 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.” She adds that someone could be HSV-1-positive and either have or not have genital herpes. The result “doesnt mean much, and it makes people go crazy.”
Hutcherson’s motto is pretty simple: Why stress yourself over something if you haven’t seen anything especially when it’s something as common as herpes? “Let’s say they have a blood test come in positive but theyve never had a lesion. Now what? You may never get a lesion,” she says. It’s 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. Let’s say you get tested anyway and it comes back positive, despite the fact that you have no symptoms. What do you do?
What Does The Test Result Mean
Direct detection of the virus
- A positive HSV DNA test or culture indicates that you have an active herpes infection, and the result may indicate if it is HSV-1 or HSV-2.
- A negative PCR test or culture indicates that the herpes simplex virus was not detected, but this does not definitely rule out an infection. False negatives can occur if there is not enough active virus in the sample. This may happen if the lesion is cultured more than 48 hours after the symptoms appear. If suspicion of herpes remains high, repeat testing may be done.
Antibody blood tests
- A positive HSV-1 or HSV-2 IgG antibody test means antibodies are present in your blood, which means you have had an infection in the past even if you haven’t noticed any symptoms. The type of antibody detected indicates the type of HSV infection.
- Negative HSV antibody results mean that it is unlikely that you have been exposed to HSV or it may mean that your body has not had time to begin producing HSV antibodies.
Also Check: How To Cure Herpes Naturally Video
What Herpes Can Look Like
Firstly, the symptoms of herpes vary greatly from person to person. Herpes symptoms can sometimes resemble a paper cut, tear, pimple, blister, bump, cut, sore or a rash in the infected area.
Itching, burning and tingling is sometimes felt before any blister or sore appears. When the herpes virus is active and has broken out at the skins surface it typically develops into a fluid filled blister which ulcerates, begins to form a dry scab and then heals.
The herpes virus is normally only active on the skin for a short period of time before it retreats back inside the body, at which point the skin typically heals and returns to normal.
When Should I Talk With A Doctor
If you have a primary care doctor who you regularly visit, you can share your results with them to provide better insight into your next steps.
If you dont have a primary care doctor, you can consult with a physician or nurse from the testing site about treatment options.
If youve been treating your symptoms with medication and are still in pain or discomfort, reach out to a healthcare professional.
Don’t Miss: Home Remedies For Herpes Blisters On Lips
When Symptoms Are Present
If active symptoms are present and the sores are not healed you should request a specific virus culture or assay for the herpes virus. A Viral culture looks for the presence of the virus in the lesion. This method is very specific and does not frequently give a positive result when something else is the culprit.
The viral culture often misses herpes even when it is present. Often a patient who has received a negative culture result will be asked to come back again when a new genital lesion appears so the culture can be tried a second or third time.
If you have been experiencing unusual symptoms or feel that you or your partner may have been exposed to an STD you should visit your Doctor as soon as possible for a herpes test.
How Do You Test For Herpes
- If you have a visible blister or sore. The liquid from the sore can be taken using a swab sample. Its best to test the fluid that appears from a sore within 48 hours of its appearance.
- A blood test test can also be used to detect herpes simplex I or herpes simplex II. If you suspect that you have contracted herpes, its important to get tested as soon as possible.
Also Check: Topical Medicine For Genital Herpes
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.
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.
Recommended Reading: Can Oral Herpes Cause Genital Herpes
The Accuracy Of Various Herpes Tests
This table summarizes the overall accuracy of different herpes tests. Please especially pay attention to the most common test, the IgG testâand most importantly to its false positive and false negative rates.
The table has three columns:
- Test accuracy: how accurate is the test in detecting the herpes virus
- False positive: the test detects the presence of herpes, but the person doesnât actually have it
- False negative: the test doesnât detect the presence of herpes, but the person does have it
Please note: the numbers in the table are averages and may vary from case to case based on factors such as when the test is performed , the testing technique, and the herpes viral load.
|100%||0%||Depends on the time of sample collection: usually 25% but may be up to 70%|
|Blood test||Commercially available IgG test: 94%Washington University test: > 99%||Commercially available IgG test: up to 19%Washington University test*: 0%||Commercially available IgG test: up to 38%Washington University test*: 0%|
* The Washington University test is considered the âgold standardâ blood test. The false-negative and false-positive rates for the commercially available IgG test are based on a comparison to the Western blot results of the Washington University test.
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.
Recommended Reading: What Medication For Herpes Outbreak
How Accurate Are The Herpes Tests
It can be incredibly stressful to wonder if you have herpes. That’s true whether you’re concerned because of symptoms because you know you’ve just been exposed, or for any other reasons. One way to determine whether or not you have genital herpes or oral herpes infection is to get a herpes test.
Many people have questions about how accurate herpes tests are. The truth is that herpes blood tests work reasonably well, but no test is perfect.
As with all herpes viruses, once an individual is infected with the herpes simplex virus, or HSV, he or she is infected for life. The presence of antibodies against herpes simplex means an individual is currently infected with the virus.
The accuracy of a herpes blood test depends on two things: how many people in the tested population have herpes and which specific test was used.
How Accurate Is The At Home Herpes Test Kit
When you use a reputable at home testing service, then your blood sample will be sent to an accredited laboratory, just as it would if you were getting a blood test ordered by your doctor. This means that the laboratory meets the standards of the US Department of Health & Human Services for accuracy on medical tests. Whether you take the sample at home or it gets taken in a doctors office, it gets sent to the same laboratory.
If you get a positive result on a herpes blood test, this likely indicates that youve been exposed to the virus. Because the herpes virus enters nerve cells and can stay dormant there for a persons whole life, if youve been exposed to herpes, then youre considered to have herpes.
However, there are also false positives on this test. A false positive means that the test shows that you have herpes, when you really dont. In fact, false positive results on the herpes test are more common than for other types of STD tests. This is why doctors dont routinely screen everybody for herpes some people may feel distressed about getting a positive result, when it was actually only a false positive.
If you do get a positive result on your home herpes test, then its important to talk with a healthcare provider to decide what to do. You may want to get another test to confirm your result. Home testing services will generally connect you with a healthcare provider so you can discuss your results.
Read Also: How Do You Get Herpes On Your Lip
How The Blood Test Results Help Herpes Infected Person
This is a diagnostic test that, if done accurately, must be aware of their condition. This helps prevent transmission of the disease unknowingly and take the medications that can help them reduce the symptoms. If you are tested herpes positive, know these things that may help you in handling the disease effectively,
A high population of people is getting affected by HSV every year, and they have a chance of transmitting to others as well if not cared for properly. The initial symptoms of this disease are very evident in most persons. Only in rare cases is it not shown with the expected intensities.
The recurring symptoms also happen to the person, with fewer effects for a short period, which can be reduced through proper medications. So, the people showing the signs of both oral and genital herpes should take the herpes blood test to confirm the disease.
There are few chances to get faulty test results, which is a drawback with this diagnosing process. But you will have to take the test if you have doubts about being exposed to this viral infection if you turn positive, inform your partner about this medical condition as they may also need to get tested.
If you have any symptoms or doubts regarding being exposed to the herpes virus, confirm it through the blood test with the guidance of a physician.
Detecting Viral Genetic Material
General representation of steps of DNA amplification using polymerase chain reaction. DNA amplification using the TaqMan chemistry mechanism.
Recently, multiplexed quantitative PCR was used to detect HSV in intraoral commensal by Yap et al. . For this study, the DNA was extracted from samples collected from oral swabs and saliva samples and prepared using commercially available sample processing kits. This extracted fragment of DNA was amplified using qPCR with a fluorescent probe, which is useful for monitoring the real-time amplification of HSV-1 and HSV-2 DNAs. UL44 and UL3 target regions were chosen for the amplification. The limit of detection for each target was established using Vircell Quantified Amplirun DNA controls and was found to be 15 cp/PCR for HSV-1 and 8 cp/PCR for HSV-2. The viral load quantification was done with a standard curve. Among a pool of samples tested for the human herpes virus, 4.3% were reported to have HSV-1 with no trace of HSV-2 DNA.
A comparative study between PCR and viral culture methods showed 100% sensitivity and specificity for the PCR technique in detecting HSV-1 and -2 over the viral culture method, which has a sensitivity of 50% with 100% specificity . Another study compared the shell vial culture method and custom-designed FRET based real-time- PCR, called LightCycler PCR, and found 100% specificity of LightCycler PCR, with increased sensitivity over shell vial techniques in detecting the virus .
Recommended Reading: Does L Lysine Help With Genital Herpes
Detection Of Hsv In Lesions
Traditional diagnosis of HSV from lesions involves the direct detection of tissues or cells infected by the virus, viral proteins, whole virus, or genetic materials. The virus is collected from lesions on skin or genitals by swabbing or scraping with a scalpel. This is followed by detection using the various techniques discussed in the following sections.
Why Have False Positive Tests Been Used As An Argument Against Routine Testing For Genital Herpes But Not For Other Stds Which Can Also Have False Positives
False positive test results are test results that say a person has a disease or condition when they do not actually have it. False positive results can occur with many diagnostic tests, including STD tests. The chances of false positive results increase as the likelihood of the infection decreases in the person being tested. False positive HSV-2 results can happen, especially in people who are at low risk for a herpes infection. Also, we do not know if people who test positive for herpes will change their sexual behavior as a result of a positive test. This tells us that the harm of a possible false positive test may be a greater concern than the benefits of an actual diagnosis. Unlike curable STDs, such as chlamydia, herpes infections are life-long, so it is especially important to avoid a false positive test.
You May Like: How Soon Can I Get Tested For Herpes After Exposure
What Is The Window Period For Herpes
The window period is the phase between being exposed to an STD like herpes and the time where an organism can be detected in the body, via the presence of antibodies.
The herpes blood test window period is three to six weeks. This is how long it takes for your body to produce antibodies that can be detected via testing. The majority of people infected with herpes will have detectable antibodies 16 weeks after exposure.
If you get tested during the window period, you may get a false-negative result from your at-home herpes test. This means you may have been infected with herpes, but believe youre negative and therefore, may pass the infection on in the future to sexual partners. To be 100% sure about your herpes test result, make sure you carry out your at-home test after the end of the window period.
It should be noted that if you are experiencing physical symptoms of herpes such as sores around the mouth or genitals, fever, and redness you can get tested right away with any of the three testing methods.
The window period should not be confused with the incubation, which is the time it takes for your body to develop a response to the herpes virus i.e. for symptoms to appear.
For both Herpes Simplex Virus Type I and Herpes Simplex Virus Type II , the incubation period is about the same at 2 to 12 days, with symptoms developing in around 3 to 6 days. When the vesicles break, causing ulcers, it will take four to two weeks to heal.