Is There A Cure For Herpes Simplex
There is no cure for herpes simplex. Once you have the virus, its a lifelong infection.
What is the outlook for people with herpes simplex?
For many people, the first herpes outbreak is the most severe. Many outbreaks are less frequent and milder after the first year of infection. Some people may have only one outbreak and never have another again.
The Accuracy Of Herpes Blood Tests
As you can see, the accuracy of herpes tests depends on several factors. Certain blood tests are more conclusive than others and as mentioned above, some tests wont tell you which type of herpes you have.
Its possible to get a false positive herpes test result, and that can depend on several confusing factors. One is the duration between contracting the virus and taking the test: the amount of antibodies changes and can impact the test results.
- For best results if you think youve been exposed, the CDC suggests waiting 4-6 weeks from contact to get the blood test.
Its also interesting to note that a high percentage of the population is infected with HSV-1, which can be transmitted orally or genitally. That brings up a lot of questions for some people as to whether knowing about it via blood test is even useful. For example, it wont tell you much about where the virus is located without symptoms.
How Common Is Herpes Simplex 1
HSV-1 is extremely common. In 2012 the World Health Organization estimated that a staggering 67% of the population was infected with the virus, and 140 million of those infected were estimated to have genital HSV-1. Oral HSV-1 is most commonly contracted during childhood after receiving kisses from family members who carry the virus. Cases of oral HSV-1 and genital HSV-1 are on the rise.
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Questions For Your Doctor About Test Results
The following questions may be useful as patients review genital and oral herpes test results with their doctor:
- What type of test was conducted?
- What is my test result?
- What is the most likely explanation for my test result?
- Are there any follow-up tests that you recommend?
- How should I discuss my test result with sexual partners?
Quick Answers For Clinicians
Virologic and serologic testing methods are available to confirm herpes simplex virus infection. Direct detection of the virus by polymerase chain reaction or viral culture is recommended for neonates and patients who have an active infection with lesions, to test for disseminated bloodborne infection in immunocompromised patients, and for cerebrospinal fluid testing. Serologic testing for immunoglobulin G can be used to determine if a person has ever been exposed to HSV but cannot determine exactly when the exposure occurred or the site of infection. Type-specific serologic testing for HSV-1- and HSV-2-specific glycoproteins can determine the subtype of the virus, which provides useful information about prognosis and informs treatment and counseling.
Genital herpes is most often caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 , but HSV-1-associated cases are increasing. Recurrence and subclinical viral shedding occur more frequently in cases caused by HSV-2 than in cases caused by HSV-1, which may impact treatment and counseling decisions. Therefore, subtyping HSV using polymerase chain reaction or serology testing can guide treatment decisions and patient counseling. Subtyping may also provide epidemiologic information about transmission of the virus.
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How Accurate Is The Herpeselect Herpes Type 1 Blood Test
This test is 97-99% accurate if tested between 4-6 weeks post exposure and will remain 99% accurate after 6 weeks.
Most people develop detectable antibodies within the recommended window period after their potential exposure, but everyone reacts differently to a viral infection. It can take people between 2 weeks and 6 months after infection to develop enough antibodies to be detected. Retesting can ensure your results are as accurate as possible.
When Should You Consider Getting Tested
Herpes is a sneaky, deceitful virus. It hides deep inside your nerve cells for unpredictable periods of time before triggering visible symptoms. In many cases, it infects the body and spreads to others without any obvious signs at all. As many as 90 percent of people infected with herpes are unaware they have the virus because theyve never experienced an outbreak.
People who dont have symptoms are more likely to transmit the herpes virus through a phenomenon known as asymptomatic shedding. This occurs when the virus sheds from the skin and spreads to others, even when no sores are present. Asymptomatic shedding is invisible to the naked eye, but its very real.
According to research, at least 70% of infected people experience asymptomatic shedding of HSV-1 at least once a month. Many may even shed the herpes virus without symptoms more than six times per month.
Given that the herpes virus doesnt always trigger outbreaks and symptoms, testing is an important way to monitor your health. The CDC recommends testing if you are experiencing symptoms that could be related to herpes or if you recently had sex with a new partner who has genital herpes.
Remember, its possible that early herpes symptoms may not seem related to herpes. An initial herpes outbreak causes flu-like symptoms, including fatigue, fever and chills. These symptoms may be paired with pain, itching and redness around the affected area.
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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.
When To Get Tested
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What Is Herpes Simplex
Herpes simplex is a virus that causes skin infections. The infection lasts your lifetime, and it causes painful or itchy sores and blisters that come and go. Herpes simplex virus typically doesnt cause severe problems. But it can be dangerous in infants and people with weakened immune systems. There are two types of herpes simplex:
- Herpes simplex 1 tends to affect your mouth or face. It causes cold sores. HSV-1 spreads through contact with saliva .
- Herpes simplex 2 is a sexually transmitted disease . It causes sores on skin that comes in contact with the genitals of an infected person.
Sometimes a herpes infection can affect other parts of your body, such as your eyes or other parts of your skin.
Can I Still Have Sex If I Have Herpes
If you have herpes, you should talk to your sex partner and let him or her know that you do and the risk involved. Using condoms may help lower this risk but it will not get rid of the risk completely. Having sores or other symptoms of herpes can increase your risk of spreading the disease. Even if you do not have any symptoms, you can still infect your sex partners.
You may have concerns about how genital herpes will impact your overall health, sex life, and relationships. It is best for you to talk to a health care provider about those concerns, but it also is important to recognize that while herpes is not curable, it can be managed with medication. Daily suppressive therapy for herpes can also lower your risk of spreading genital herpes to your sex partner. Be sure to discuss treatment options with your healthcare provider. Since a genital herpes diagnosis may affect how you will feel about current or future sexual relationships, it is important to understand how to talk to sexual partners about STDsexternal icon.
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Why Are There State
Syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia are notifiable diseases in the United States, but herpes is not. A disease is notifiable if healthcare providers in all 50 states are required by law to report the diagnosis to their state or local health departments. CDC is also notified, and publishes state-by-state data for these infections. Because herpes infections are not notifiable infections by law, CDC is not able to provide state-by-state data. Public health surveillance for herpes infections is mainly done through population-based, national surveys, such as the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey .
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What Is The Hsv Igm Test
The herpes simplex virus, termed as HSV causes an infection called herpes. The virus is categorized into two types, the herpes simplex virus type 1 and herpes simplex virus type 2 . While HSV-1 is caused by physical contact and causes cold sores in the mouth area, the HSV-2 type is transmitted sexually and leads to genital herpes. The virus is highly contagious and causes painful blisters and ulcers at the site of infection. There is no cure for herpes and it can only be controlled by medications and certain home remedies. The HSV IgM test is a blood test that is used to detect the presence of the virus in the system. While the test does not identify the actual virus, it points out certain proteins that are produced by the body in response to the virus.
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Interpretation Provides Information To Assist In Interpretation Of The Test Results
This assay detects IgG-class antibodies to type-specific herpes simplex virus glycoprotein G and may allow for the differentiation of infection caused by HSV types 1 and 2. The presence of IgG-class antibodies to HSV types 1 or 2 indicates previous exposure and does not necessarily indicate that HSV is the causative agent of an acute illness.
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Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.
Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.
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Can I Treat Herpes Simplex At Home
Avoiding known triggers, such as illness or stress, can help reduce how often you have herpes outbreaks.
How can I ease my symptoms during an outbreak of HSV-1 ?
- Over-the-counter creams such as L-lysine, benzocaine or docosanol .
- Applying ice to blisters or sores.
How can I ease my symptoms during an outbreak of HSV-2 ?
- Apply an ice pack to your genitals. Wrap the ice pack in a washcloth or apply it over your underwear.
- Keep your genitals dry. Wear cotton or other nonsynthetic underpants and avoid tight-fitting clothes. Moist sores take longer to heal.
- Soak in a warm bath.
- Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain.
- Topical 1% or 2% lidocaine may be used as a topical analgesic.
How Is Genital Herpes Spread
If you do not have herpes, you can get infected if you come into contact with the herpes virus in:
- Saliva or genital secretions
- Skin in the oral area if your partner has an oral herpes infection, or skin in the genital area if your partner has a genital herpes infection.
You can get herpes from a sex partner who does not have a visible sore or who may not know he or she is infected. It is also possible to get genital herpes if you receive oral sex from a sex partner who has oral herpes.
You will not get herpes from toilet seats, bedding, or swimming pools, or from touching objects around you such as silverware, soap, or towels. If you have additional questions about how herpes is spread, consider discussing your concerns with a healthcare provider.
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Book Your Herpes Test
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What Can I Do If I Have Herpes Simplex 2
Many people who find out they have herpes feel depressed knowing they’ll always have the virus and can give it to others. But you arent alone. Herpes is one of the most common STIs, both in the U.S. and worldwide. If you have herpes, you should:
- Learn all you can about it. Information will help you to manage your disease and feel better about yourself.
- Talk about your illness with your doctor.
If you have herpes, you can still:
- Have sex if you use a condom or dental dam , and you tell your partner about your illness. Some couples, who have sexual relations only with each other, may choose not to use condoms even though one partner has herpes. Because each situation is different, you should ask your doctor if this is the right choice for you in your relationship.
- Have children. People with herpes can still give birth to healthy babies. If you have herpes and plan to have children, discuss your illness with your healthcare provider.
If you have herpes, you should also get checked for HIV and other STIs .
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Why Is The Igm Hsv Antibodies Test No Longer Recommended
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and the American Society for Microbiology all recommend the use of the IgG antibodies test over the IgM HSV test.
IgG tests are preferred because:
- For herpes, IgG and IgM antibodies show up around the same time â normally, IgM antibodies appear first.
- IgM antibodies may only last a few months and may not be made after the first outbreak â but IgG antibodies last indefinitely and are made during all outbreaks.
- IgG antibodies can distinguish between HSV-1 and HSV-2 and IgM antibodies canât.
What Else Can I Do To Help With A Genital Herpes Outbreak
As well as taking medication to help with symptoms, you can also try:
- using an anaesthetic gel to numb your skin and ease any pain
- soaking the affected area with plain or salt water
- applying Vaseline to the affected area
- drinking plenty of fluids
- wearing loose clothing
- taking pain relief medications, like paracetamol or ibuprofen
The symptoms of herpes outbreaks will usually go away by themselves within 10 days as your immune system fights the infection on its own. You might find the sores painful during that time, so medication can help you by clearing up the infection more quickly.
If youd like to speak to one of our doctors about your symptoms, you can book a telephone consultation. Theyll be able to provide personalised advice on how to cope with genital herpes.
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How Is Herpes Simplex Diagnosed
Healthcare providers may diagnose herpes simplex based on how the sores look. Your provider may take a sample from the sore. Laboratory analysis of the sample can confirm or rule out the herpes virus.
If you dont have sores, your healthcare provider can use a blood test to check for HSV-1 and HSV-2 antibody, a marker showing youve been exposed to the virus. The blood test doesnt show an active infection . But it informs your provider whether youve been exposed to the herpes virus in the past. If this is your first infection, you may not test positive for herpes if there hasnt been enough time for your body to develop antibodies. The HSV-1and HSV-2 antibody test may be repeated in eight to 12 weeks.