Genital And Oral Herpes Testing
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- Herpes Simplex Virus 1 and 2
- Qualitative PCR
- Herpes Simplex Virus Culture
- Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1- and Type 2-Specific Antibodies
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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 To Diagnose Herpes
Genital herpes is typically diagnosed through examination by a medical professional and a blood test. If you suspect you have genital herpes , you can take an antibody test.
To test for 6 other common STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis C, HIV, syphilis, and trichomoniasis, try the Everlywell home STD Test for women or the STD Test for men. After you collect your sample at home, it is received and analyzed at the lab, and the test results are sent to you quickly and discreetly via our secure, online platform.
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Are Test Results Accurate
Tests that identify evidence of HSV infections are routine and commonly used medical tests. The ability of a test to accurately diagnose or rule out HSV infection depends on the test used for analysis and the stage of a patients infection.
The Tzanck smear and viral culture are less able to accurately identify patients who have an HSV infection than other tests. PCR testing and antibody testing are more sensitive, which means that they miss fewer cases of infection.
Blood tests that detect antibodies to HSV can distinguish between HSV-1 and HSV-2 but not the site of infection. This means that blood tests cannot tell whether a patient has a genital or oral herpes infection.
Although these tests are valuable for identifying HSV infection, no test is perfect. When learning of test results, patients should talk to their doctor about the type of test conducted, the reliability of test results, and if additional tests are necessary to confirm or rule out a diagnosis.
How Soon Can You Be Tested
The incubation period for herpes is 2 to 12 days, which means that the best time to get tested for the herpes virus if you havent had an initial outbreak is after 12 days. If youre worried that youve been exposed to herpes but have not yet been diagnosed, here are some steps you can take:
- If youre currently sexually active, stop all sexual activity until you can receive a formal diagnosis.
- Reach out to your doctor and schedule an appointment for once the incubation period is up.
- If youre having an outbreak, you dont have to wait to get tested. Its possible to receive a diagnosis based on the lesions.
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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 asleep , 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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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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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.
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Accuracy By Test Type
Two blood tests are used to screen for herpes. To ensure that an initial positive result is correct, a second test using a different method of detection is used to confirm the results.
The first test is the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay . An ELISA looks for immune proteins, called antibodies, that are produced by the immune system in response to the HSV. HSV antibodies are present even when there are no symptoms.
If the ELISA result is positive, your healthcare provider may administer a Western blot assay. This second test looks for proteins on the surface of the virus, called antigens, which serve as the virus’ “ID tag.” HSV antibodies produced in response to these antigens help the immune system target its attack.
According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the accuracy of the two blood used to diagnose herpes breaks down as follows:
|Over 99%||Over 99%|
Due to its high level of sensitivity and specificity, the Western blot is considered the gold standard of herpes blood testing.
With that said, the accuracy of the tests can be affected by the timing of the tests. For an ELISA to return an accurate result, the immune system needs to produce enough antibodies to reach detectable levels.
Testing too early during the so-called window period can end up causing a false-negative result .
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Best Convenient Herpes Test: Mylab Box
People can order at-home herpes tests from MyLAB Box. These kits contain instructions, a specimen bag, and a prepaid return envelope. Users may find this test convenient because of its quick turnaround for results and the option to book a free consultation and get treatment.
|doctor may prescribe treatment if test results are positive|
|Con||only tests for HSV-2|
Once a person receives their collection kit, they can collect their sample using the instructions. They can then use the prepaid envelope to send it to the laboratory.
People should receive their results within 25 days. If the test is positive, they can book a free consultation with a doctor to discuss their results and treatment options. The doctor may then prescribe treatment.
This at-home test only works for people who wish to test for genital herpes. The company does not offer test kits for oral herpes.
The kit costs $89 as a stand-alone test, but the company also markets other kits that test for different infections. For example, if a person also wishes to test for other STIs, they can purchase the Total Box 14 Panel option or the Uber Box 8 Panel option.
If You Have Zero Symptoms Getting Tested Wont Help You
The problem is that blood tests for herpes when no lesions or symptoms are present are often bullshit. I realize thats a pretty strong word, but after speaking with doctors who have administered these tests, its become more and more apparent to me how misunderstood and in some cases, just plain wrong the results they give are.
Part of the reason theyre flawed has to do with the fact that most people have been exposed to HSV-1 or oral herpes. For HSV-1, close to 100 percent of people in the U.S. are antibody-positive because they have been exposed at some point in their lives, though only a percentage of these individuals will actually get cold sores, says Adam Friedman, the residency program director at the George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences in Washington, D.C. He adds that blood tests can be misleading because they usually dont detect the herpes virus itself and instead look at the level of antibodies against the virus, which is merely a sign of immune response to it.
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How Is Genital Herpes Spread
- Saliva from a partner with an oral herpes infection
- Genital fluids from a partner with a genital herpes infection
- Skin in the oral area of a partner with oral herpes or
- Skin in the genital area of a partner with genital herpes.
You also can get genital herpes from a sex partner who does not have a visible sore or is unaware of their infection. It is also possible to get genital herpes if you receive oral sex from a partner with oral herpes.
You will not get herpes from toilet seats, bedding, or swimming pools. You also will not get it from touching objects, such as silverware, soap, or towels.
If you have more questions about herpes, consider discussing your concerns with a healthcare provider.
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.
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How Can Herpes Be Tested/checked
Better2Know has three ways of testing for the Herpes virus:
- Blood Test if you have no symptoms
- Urine Test if you currently have symptoms
- Swab Test if you have a blister or other lesion for swabbing to see if it is caused by HSV.
At Better2Know, you can choose your test method: urine or a swab if you have symptoms, and blood if you do not. Results are available within 25 working days from us receiving your sample depending on which sample is taken. The test will tell you whether you have HSV-1, HSV-2, both types or neither.
At selected private sexual health clinics, Better2Know also provides instant Herpes testing. With this exclusive, popular Herpes testing option, you will receive your results from 10 minutes after sample collection.
You can also get a Home Sample Collection Kit by visiting our Home STI Tests page.
Cost And Health Insurance
Depending on where you live and the lab you use, your HSV IgG blood test can cost between $35 to $80. Public clinics tend to be the least costly.
Even though genital HSV is considered an STD, dont assume that a free STD clinic will have the test or provide it free of charge. Some may only offer free testing for HIV, hepatitis, and select STD screening tests.
To ensure the test is available, call the clinic in advance of your arrival. To search for free or low-cost STD clinics in your area, use the GetTested locator offered by the CDC.
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Are There Other Types Of Herpes Viruses Besides Hsv
Yes. There are over 25 viruses in the herpes family and at least 8 types that infect humans. These include herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2 discussed in this article as well as varicella zoster virus , associated with chickenpox and shingles, Epstein Barr virus , which can cause infectious mononucleosis, cytomegalovirus , human herpes virus 6 and human herpes virus 7 , both associated with roseola in young children, and human herpes virus 8 , which has been found in tumors in people with Kaposi’s sarcoma . KS primarily affects people with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS and organ transplant recipients.
Its Not Always Clear What To Do With Herpes Test Results
Jeanne Marrazzo, MD, an STI specialist at the University of Washington Medical School, believes that the problem with herpes testing isnt the tests themselves. Its under debate whether herpes testing is cost-effective and really going to improve peoples psychosocial health, Dr. Marrazzo tells Health. If its positive, it may be difficult to figure out where you got it. If youve never had symptoms, theres the question of whether or not you go on suppressive therapy.
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During And After The Test
When you have a urine STI test, it is usually during a regular appointment. You will be asked to pee into a sample collection cup or tube. That tube or cup will be given to one of the medical staff.
Your urine sample will then be sent out to a lab or tested at the clinic. You can leave as soon as you are done giving the sample or when your appointment is finished.
How Common Is Genital Herpes
Results of a nationally representative study show that genital herpes infection is common in the United States. Nationwide, at least 45 million people ages 12 and older or one out of five adolescents and adults have genital herpes. Over the past decade, the percentage of Americans with HSV-1 has decreased, however that also means people are more susceptible to contracting genitals herpes from HSV-1.
Genital HSV-2 infection is more common in women than in men . This is because male-to-female transmission is more likely than female-to-male transmission.
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Should I Get Routinely Tested For Herpes
The CDC doesnt recommend routine testing for herpes. Individuals who are diagnosed with genital herpes but who do not have symptoms typically dont change their sexual behavior. Therefore, routine testing has not been effective at preventing the spread of the virus. It is also possible to get a false positive result from a herpes test, which is another reason the CDC doesnt encourage routine use of the test.
How Does Genital Herpes Affect Pregnancy
Genital herpes doesnt affect fertility or your ability to conceive. Pregnant women with a diagnosis of herpes genitalis are recommended to start a daily antiviral at 36 weeks of pregnancy to prevent outbreaks during time of delivery. If you have an active infection at the time of childbirth, you can pass the herpes virus to your baby. Neonatal herpes puts a baby at risk for blindness, brain damage, skin infections and death. Your healthcare provider will perform a cesarean section to lower this risk.
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How Is Herpes Treated
Herpes cannot be cured, but it can be managed. Medications are available that can prevent or shorten the duration of herpes outbreaks. There is a medicine that you can take on a daily basis that can help prevent outbreaks and also lower your risk of spreading the virus to others. Talk to your healthcare provider about your options. Antiviral medications such as acyclovir, famciclovir and valacyclovir can suppress outbreaks and shorten the duration of symptoms and active shedding of virus.
Does My Healthcare Provider Include A Blood Test For Genital Herpes When They Test Me For Everything
Herpes blood tests may or may not be part of the tests your healthcare provider gives you. They may choose tests based on several factors .
They will also evaluate you for signs or symptoms of herpes to choose which tests to use. This is why its important to talk openly and honestly with your provider during your visit. Ask them which infections they are and are not testing you for and why.
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