How To Test For Herpes
If you suspect you have herpes, the first thing you should do is contact your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider can examine your blisters or sores to check for herpes. If you do have an HSV infection, your healthcare provider may recommend a treatment plan for you.
The Center for Disease Control recommends a genital herpes test if you have symptoms of herpes or a sexual partner who has genital herpes . Note that some people have asymptomatic herpes and donât show symptoms, but the CDC does not recommend asymptomatic screening for herpes .
If you would like an easy at-home option to test for 6 other common STIs, try the Everlywell home STD Test for women or the STD Test for men which checks for chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis C, HIV, syphilis, and trichomoniasis. Once your sample is received and analyzed at the lab, the test results are sent to you quickly and discreetly via our secure, online platform.
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Almost Everyone Needs Tested
If youre sexually active and not in a long-term relationship, you should be tested for STDs on a regular basis. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers this general testing guide:
- Everyone 13 to 64: At least once for HIV.
- Sexually active women under 25: Yearly for chlamydia and gonorrhea.
- All pregnant women: Tested for syphilis, HIV and hepatitis B
- All women in at-risk pregnancies: Tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea.
- Those having unprotected sex or sharing needles: Yearly for HIV.
Also, sexually active bisexual or gay men should get frequent tests for HIV, up to every 3-6 months, and yearly tests for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea.
Can You Get Herpes From Sharing Utensils
It is unlikely that you could contract herpes from shared cutlery, but there is no need to risk infection. It is good practice to wash your utensils well and forgo shared desserts until your partners outbreak is under control. The Centers for Disease Control maintains that you cannot get herpes from touching shared items such as towels or silverware.
Typically, the herpes virus manifests itself as genital herpes or cold sores, but it can spread to other areas of the body. HSV-1, otherwise known as oral herpes, is the form of herpes that presents as infectious cold sores. It is wise to keep in mind that herpes is still spreadable without the presence of visible sores.
Any contact with active oozing cold sores leads to a permanent herpes infection..
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Best For Quick Results: Stdcheck
STDcheck offers tests for both HSV-1 and HSV-2. A person can order an HSV-2 test for $45, or they can order a test for both HSV-1 and HSV-2 for $79. There is also an option to order a test package that tests for 10 different STIs.
This option is best for people who need their results quickly.
What Are The Complications Of Genital Herpes
Genital herpes may cause painful genital ulcers that can be severe and persistent in persons with suppressed immune systems, such as HIV-infected persons. 5 Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can also cause rare but serious complications such as aseptic meningitis . 5 Development of extragenital lesions may occur during the course of infection. 5
There are also potential complications for a pregnant woman and her newborn child. See How does herpes infection affect a pregnant woman and her baby? below for information about this.
Where Can I Get Tested For Stds / Stis
Your general practitioner, OBGYN, or urgent care clinic can all order STI / STD tests for you. You can also try a local or campus clinic or your local Planned Parenthood location.
Depending on your income, you may even be able to get tests for free. Search here for your local Planned Parenthood and call to find out if you qualify for free testing.
If youre uncomfortable with those options, or dont want STI tests on your insurance, some states allow you to order tests at home.
Same-day testing today: You can also use this site to order tests online and then stop by a lab near you for same-day testing.
Best For New Symptoms: Plushcare
Why We Chose It: If you think you may have herpes symptoms for the first time, blood tests are not accurate. Its best to see a doctorand PlushCare offers that from home because PlushCare is a telemedicine provider.
Accepts insurance from several major companies
A doctor may be able to diagnose you with herpes without testing, which is faster and less expensive than other options
Meeting with a doctor allows you to ask questions and get educated about your sexual health concerns
PlushCare is a telemedicine provider. It may be a good option for people who also need other online or at-home healthcare
A doctor visit is required to access testing
Youre not actually buying a herpes test. If your doctor doesnt think you need one, you may not be offered one
When you use PlushCare for STI testing, youre not purchasing an at-home herpes test. Instead, you are making a virtual appointment with a doctor to discuss your concerns about herpes and other STIs. Then, if the doctor thinks a test is warranted, he or she will write an order for a test and send you to fill it. Results are usually communicated to the doctor within three to five days, and then the doctor will follow up with you by telehealth and provide treatment or further testing as appropriate.
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When Should I Get Tested
The best time to get tested for herpes if you havent had an initial outbreak is 12 days after exposure. This is because your body will have had time to produce antibodies that can be detected on a test.
A blood test can determine whether you have these antibodies.
Swabs, on the other hand, can detect the virus directly from an active herpes lesion.
What Happens If I Dont Receive Treatment
Genital herpes can cause painful genital sores and can be severe in people with suppressed immune systems.
If you touch your sores or fluids from the sores, you may transfer herpes to another body part like your eyes. Do not touch the sores or fluids to avoid spreading herpes to another part of your body. If you do touch the sores or fluids, quickly wash your hands thoroughly to help avoid spreading the infection.
If you are pregnant, there can be problems for you and your unborn fetus, or newborn baby. See Im pregnant. How could genital herpes affect my baby? for information about this.
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Genital Herpes Treatment In Pregnancy
You may be offered antiviral treatment:
- to treat outbreaks in pregnancy
- from 36 weeks to reduce the chance of an outbreak during birth
- from diagnosis until the birth if you first get herpes after 28 weeks of pregnancy
Many women with genital herpes have a vaginal delivery. You may be offered a caesarean, depending on your circumstances.
How Common Is Genital Herpes
Genital herpes infection is common in the United States. CDC estimated that there were 572,000 new genital herpes infections in the United States in a single year.1 Nationwide, 11.9 % of persons aged 14 to 49 years have HSV-2 infection .2 However, the prevalence of genital herpes infection is higher than that because an increasing number of genital herpes infections are caused by HSV-1. 3 Oral HSV-1 infection is typically acquired in childhood because the prevalence of oral HSV-1 infection has declined in recent decades, people may have become more susceptible to contracting a genital herpes infection from HSV-1. 4
HSV-2 infection is more common among women than among men the percentages of those infected during 2015-2016 were 15.9% versus 8.2% respectively, among 14 to 49 year olds. 2 This is possibly because genital infection is more easily transmitted from men to women than from women to men during penile-vaginal sex. 5 HSV-2 infection is more common among non-Hispanic blacks than among non-Hispanic whites . 2 A previous analysis found that these disparities, exist even among persons with similar numbers of lifetime sexual partners. Most infected persons may be unaware of their infection in the United States, an estimated 87.4% of 14 to 49 year olds infected with HSV-2 have never received a clinical diagnosis. 6
The age-adjusted percentage of persons in the United States infected with HSV-2 decreased from 18.0% in 19992000 to 12.1% in 2015-2016. 2
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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
Genital Herpes Is Common Shouldnt Cdc Recommend Testing For Everyone
CDC recommends herpes testing for people who have genital symptoms to confirm if they have it. Testing allows a healthcare provider to talk with patients about what to expect in the future. This includes talking about medications that help with symptoms. Providers can also tell patients how to lower the risk of transmitting herpes to sex partner.
CDC does not recommend herpes testing for people without symptoms in most situations. This is because of the limits of a herpes blood test and the possibility of a wrong test result. The chances of wrong test results are higher for people who are at low risk of infection.
Blood tests might be useful if:
- You have genital symptoms that could be related to herpes, or
- You have a sex partner with genital herpes, or
- Your provider found signs of herpes, but you still need a test to confirm it.
If you are sexually active, talk openly and honestly with your healthcare provider about what tests are right for you. These tips can help.
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Should I Retest For Herpes Hsv
As there is not yet a cure for genital herpes, there is no need to retest after testing positive. You should, however, retest every 6-12 months after testing negative, or if symptoms show. Remember, it can take up to 16 weeks to test positive for HSV-2, so if you test earlier than that you may want consider retesting. On the plus side, outbreaks are pretty easy to manage as long as you are properly treating the infection. If you do test positive, you are entitled to a free phone consultation with a physician affiliate, which is included with your test kit purchase. In most cases, this physician can even prescribe your treatment. This will help you to manage your symptoms and outbreaks and minimize them when they do appear.
Knowing when to test for genital herpes allows you to determine your status without visiting the clinic. Knowing how easy it is to test from home will make you wonder why you didnt try home testing sooner!
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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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When Is It Ordered
HSV PCR testing or herpes culture may be ordered when you have signs and symptoms of a herpes infection, such as a blister or blisters on or around your eye, mouth, genitals or rectum.
Herpes PCR testing may be ordered when you have signs and symptoms of encephalitis that a healthcare practitioner suspects may be caused by a virus. Examples of these signs and symptoms include:
Prenatal and newborn testing
- A pregnant woman who has been diagnosed with herpes may be monitored regularly prior to delivery to detect a reactivation of her infection.
- A baby born to a mother who has active lesions during delivery may be tested before symptoms appear to assess whether the baby was exposed to HSV during delivery.
- A mother and newborn may be tested for HSV soon after delivery when a baby shows signs of HSV infection, such as meningitis or skin lesions that could be caused by the herpes virus.
HSV antibody testing may be done when your healthcare practitioner wants to determine if you have been exposed to HSV in the past.
There Are Two Common Blood Tests Used To Identify Herpes And They’re 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 that’s 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 you’ve been exposed to oral herpes , results of the IgM test could lead you to believe you’re positive for genital herpes, when in fact you simply have antibodies against HSV-1.
IgG tests, on the other hand, are more accurate, but aren’t 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 Can I Reduce My Risk Of Getting Genital Herpes
If you are sexually active, you can do the following things to lower your chances of getting genital herpes:
- Be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who is not infected with an STD
- Using latex condoms the right way every time you have sex.
Be aware that not all herpes sores occur in areas that are covered by a latex condom. Also, herpes virus can be released from areas of the skin that do not have a visible herpes sore. For these reasons, condoms may not fully protect you from getting herpes.
If you are in a relationship with a person known to have genital herpes, you can lower your risk of getting genital herpes if:
- Your partner takes an anti-herpes medication every day. This is something your partner should discuss with his or her doctor.
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Can You Test Negative For Herpes And Still Have It
If your herpes test result was negative but you are still experiencing symptoms, you might have taken the test too early.
There is also a chance that you have another condition that mimics the symptoms of herpes, such as syphilis or genital warts . There is also a very small possibility of a false-positive result. If you have tested positive for herpes but dont think you have it, you should do another test.
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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.