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Why Doesnt Everyone Receive A Herpes Blood Test
Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 may be common infections today, but a majority of people who actually have this infection will not experience any symptoms. Disease control agencies, such as the CDC do not recommend herpes testing for anyone without symptoms. There is evidence that diagnosing someone without symptoms does not change their sexual behavior.
When discussing your sexual habits with your doctor, it is more effective to determine if you should be tested for any or all STDs instead. This would include a herpes blood test at this point.
If there are bothersome signs and symptoms of a herpes outbreak, then the herpes blood test may be able to provide useful information. Youll want to consider requesting this blood test if any one of these three sexual health issues would describe your current situation.
- You are currently experiencing genital symptoms that you believe could be related to herpes.
- You are currently having sex or have had a sexual partner in the past who you know had genital herpes.
- You have had multiple sexual partners in the recent past and you want to have a complete STD exam.
How We Chose The Best At
When researching at-home herpes tests, we considered online reviews, privacy protocols, result times, result accuracy, and budget.
We prioritized affordable pricing and accessibility to digital results. Additionally, we kept an eye on user ratings and reviews to ensure that most people received accurate results and were happy with their experience.
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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.
Best Subscription For Herpes Test: Letsgetchecked
The LetsGetChecked home kits can test for both HSV-1 and HSV-2. This test kit may be best for people who require regular testing as the companys subscription options can offer significant discounts.
|nurses available through LetsGetChecked to discuss positive results
|tests for both HSV-1 and HSV-2
|does not accept insurance
A person receives a collection kit with all the tools they need to collect their samples at home. This includes needles, a prepaid envelope, alcohol swabs, and a tube. The tests come in discreet packaging so that other people will not know what the person has received.
The person also has access to an instruction video on the company website that explains how they should take their test. LetsGetChecked suggests that people take a blood sample before 9 a.m. and return it to the laboratory on the same day.
The company states that it issues the results within 25 days.
Individuals who receive a positive result can contact a nurse through the company, and they may suggest a treatment plan.
LetsGetChecked offers a one-time purchase for $119. Anyone who requires regular testing can purchase a LetsGetChecked subscription and get discounts on its tests. For instance, a 3-monthly subscription will give a person a 30% saving on the cost of the kits.
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How Do You Get Herpes
Herpes is extremely contagious and is easily spread from infected fluids, like saliva and genital secretions, or skin-to-skin contact with a herpes sore or the affected area.
HSV-1 and HSV-2 can both be spread through:
Even if a sexual partners skin is free of herpes sores, it is still possible to get herpes, this is called viral shedding. Though visible sores may not be present, the virus is still transmittable.3
The CDC states that herpes is not transferred through the use of toilet seats, bedding, towels, or swimming pools.
Most cases of HSV-2 are transmitted through physical contact with someone who already has the disease, but it is recommended to avoid sharing drinks or other inanimate objects that may have recently come into contact with infected saliva or secretions .
Herpes can also be transmitted from mother to infant during childbirth, especially if the mother has active genital sores. Because a newborn with birth-acquired herpes can suffer brain damage, breathing problems, and seizures, its important to test for and treat herpes sores when pregnant.
There is a misconception that when you discover you have herpes, you or your partner has cheated. This is often not the case. It is very difficult to determine how and when herpes was acquired because the virus can lie dormant for years.
What Are The Symptoms And Signs Of Herpes
Oral and genital Herpes infections often have no symptoms or mild symptoms that can either go unnoticed or be mistaken for other types of bacterial or fungal infections, in both men and women. Occasionally, the virus may be present with no visible signs and can still be passed on, by a process called ‘asymptomatic viral shedding’.
Did you know?
1 in 3 people with Herpes will have symptoms, whilst 2 in 3 will only have mild symptoms or none at all.
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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.
What Is The Difference Between Genital Herpes And Genital Warts
Both genital herpes and genital warts are STIs, are spread through skin-to-skin contact, and are caused by a virus. But the viruses that cause genital herpes and genital warts are different:
- Herpes simplex virus is the virus that causes genital herpes.
- Human papillomavirus is the virus that causes genital warts.
There is no cure for either genital herpes or genital warts. But, different medicines can help manage the symptoms of herpes and treat the complications of HPV infections that can cause genital warts.
Read Also: How Long Is Herpes Outbreak
Will I Have To Pay For The Test Out Of Pocket
Youll have to check with your insurance network to see whether at-home STI tests are covered.
Insurance does typically cover them, but sites like Everlywell recommend verifying the purchase with your insurance.
Additionally, some networks may reimburse you for your purchase.
However, most at-home testing sites arent currently partnered with any insurance companies, which means youll have to reach out yourself.
If you dont have insurance, youll likely have to pay for the test out of pocket. Some sites like Priority STD dont accept insurance, so its a flat rate of $99 regardless of your coverage.
How To Check If You Have Asymptomatic Herpes
If you have no herpes symptoms but believe you might have been exposed to the virus, you can take a herpes test to verify whether or not youre infected.
The most accurate herpes testing method for asymptomatic people is an IgG test, which checks for the presence of IgG antibodies in your blood. These antibodies can signal a herpes infection using certain testing methods, they can also be used to differentiate between HSV-1 and HSV-2.
IgG antibodies can take several months to form after a herpes infection, meaning youll typically need to wait for 12 to 16 weeks before taking an IgG test to make sure you receive an accurate result.
If youre concerned that you might have asymptomatic herpes, the best approach is to speak to your doctor about testing options. Your doctor will be able to schedule a test based on the date of your potential exposure to the virus and provide you with an accurate diagnosis. If you discover you do have HSV-1 or HSV-2, the most important thing is to not panic. These viruses are extremely common, and there are a variety of anti-viral medications out there to help minimize the severity and requency of outbreaks. Most notably, vacyclovir.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.
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What The Values Mean
What does that mean for you? How common herpes comes into the calculation. It affects how likely positive tests and negative tests are to be correct. In fact, it can make a bigger difference than herpes blood test accuracy!
Let us make the reasonable assumption that around 50% of the population are infected with HSV1. Thats the virus primarily associated with oral herpes and cold sores. Its also associated with a growing number of genital herpes infections.
Then assume that 25% of people are infected with HSV2. Thats the virus primarily associated with genital herpes. In that scenario, the positive predictive value and negative predictive value are as follows.
- HSV-1: At least 94% of positive tests give the correct result, and at least 99% of negative test will be correct.
- HSV-2: At least 98% of positive tests are correct, and at least 97% of negative tests are correct.
- HSV-1: 95% of positive tests are correct, and 97% of negative tests are correct.
- HSV-2: 99% of positive tests are correct, and 99% of negative tests are correct.
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.
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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.
What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
- What is the best treatment for me?
- What happens if I dont treat a cold sore?
- What are the side effects of antiviral medications?
- How can I reduce the risk of future outbreaks?
- Whats the best way to prevent getting another STI?
- How can I protect my partner from getting genital herpes?
- Should I lookout for signs of complications?
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Can Genital Herpes Cause Recurrent Utis
Whats worse than a painful, burning urinary tract infection? Theres no doubt that suffering from recurring urinary tract infections is one thing!
Not only can the symptoms of a urinary tract infection interfere with your daily life, they can also create a stigma and cause ongoing anxiety that makes it difficult to function. In fact, some people with severe chronic UTIs dont even feel comfortable leaving the house.
One question that arises, though, is what causes recurring UTIs? Can they be related to sexually transmitted infections, such as genital herpes? Or is this a completely separate issue?
Genital Herpes: Common But Misunderstood
First recognize the symptoms and signs, then take action to prevent outbreaks
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection that can cause small, painful sores in the genital area. The symptoms may include low-grade fever, itching, burning, and trouble urinating. But many people with the disease dont realize they have been infected with HSV, because either they have only mild or infrequent symptoms, or no symptoms at all. In women, herpes outbreaks can also be mistaken for vaginitis, urinary tract infections, or even hemorrhoids.
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Recommended Reading: How To Get Rid Of Herpes Cold Sore
Why Doctors Dont Automatically Test You For Herpes
OK, clearly herpes is super common. So why dont doctors automatically test for it when you ask to get tested for everything? To answer that question, its important to understand the difference between STI testing and STI screening. Testing is done when you have symptoms, whereas screening is done in the absence of symptomsjust to check to see if youve been exposed.
Doctors will screen for STIs such as gonorrhea and chlamydia even in the absence of symptoms. This is key from a public health perspective because catching these infections in time can prevent serious complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease. This happens when an untreated STI like gonorrhea or chlamydia infects reproductive organs, possibly leading to infertility.
Experts dont screen for herpes for a few reasons.
The U.S. Preventative Task Force has recommended against screening asymptomatic adolescents and adults for HSV infections. The rationale is that there is no health benefit thats been proven and there a couple of risks, Dr. Johnston says. One is a false positive test, and the second is a risk of anxiety is not associated with serious health outcomes, yet its still feared.
Even pregnant people who could theoretically risk passing the virus during childbirth are not screened unless they have a history of herpes outbreaks or a current outbreak, Peter Leone, M.D., of UNCs Institute of Global Health and Infectious Diseases, tells SELF.
Herpes False Positive Test Results
There are many tests that can diagnose herpes, but some are more accurate than others. It is in fact possible to get a herpes false positive.
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Which test is best? First lets take a closer look at some of the tests and the overall effectiveness of each.
The Western Blot Test for Genital Herpes
This test is considered to be one of the most effective ways of diagnosing genital herpes, and it is thought that the test has great accuracy results. However, cost, time and availability are a major issue and this may make people turn to other types of herpes screening programs. Never the less, many physicians are willing to refer patients for a Western Blot test if they suspect an outbreak of genital herpes.
The HerpeSelect Test
This test comprises of two parts. Patients undergo the herpes immunoblot test and the genital herpes Elisa IgG test. The blood samples are analyzed at a laboratory, hence, the patient may have to wait for the test results. Both tests offer highly accurate results and as a rule, they will detect both variations of the herpes simplex virus . Recent studies show that herpes false positive results are unlikely when this type of test is used.
The SureVue HSV-2 Test
The Tzanck Smear
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