Type Of Tests Used To Diagnose Herpes
There are four main types of diagnostic tests that can be used to diagnose herpes. Your doctor will determine which type of test to use based on whether an outbreak is present or not.
If youre experiencing what you believe to be a herpes outbreak, your doctor can use a viral culture test or virus antigen detection test. If youre not experiencing symptoms, you can have an antibody test.
- Viral culture test.This test is used to determine if a sore contains the herpes virus. This test can sometimes produce a false-negative, meaning that it may not detect the virus even though its present.
- Virus antigen detection test. This test is used to determine if antigens to the herpes virus are present in a sore or lesion.
- Antibody test. If youre not experiencing an outbreak yet but still believe you may have been exposed, you can opt to have an antibody test performed. This test will only show a positive result if the antibodies to the virus have been developed. Therefore, this test isnt necessarily recommended for recent exposure.
- Polymerase chain reaction test. With this test, a healthcare provider can screen a sample of your blood or tissue from a sore. They can use this to determine if HSV is present and which type you have.
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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|
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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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MNT chooses at-home tests that meet the following criteria where possible:
- Laboratories: Where possible, MNT will choose companies that process test samples in labs. This means they follow state and federal regulations.
- Budget: MNT chooses at-home tests that suit a wide range of budgets.
- Privacy: MNT includes companies that offer robust and transparent privacy measures, such as data protection and discreet packaging.
- Test result speed: MNT selects companies that inform customers when they will receive their test results and whether they will receive them via email, app, or phone.
- Further support: MNT will indicate whether a company offers further support, such as a follow-up phone consultation with a doctor to discuss test results.
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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What You Need To Know
- Fifty percent to 80 percent of U.S. adults have oral herpes.
- Oral herpes can be spread through intimate contact with someone who is infected.
- Oral herpes can be difficult to diagnose. Often confused with many other infections, it can only be confirmed with a virus culture called PCR, blood test or biopsy. PCR is the preferred test for diagnosing herpes infections.
- The best treatment for oral herpes is antiviral oral medication. Symptomatic treatment may include antiviral ointment, over-the-counter topical anesthetics or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory agents.
Whether you call it a cold sore or a fever blister, oral herpes is a common infection of the mouth area that is caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 . Fifty percent to 80 percent of U.S. adults have oral herpes. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 90 percent of adults have been exposed to the virus by age 50.
Once infected, a person will have herpes simplex virus for the rest of his or her life. When inactive, the virus lies dormant in a group of nerve cells. While some people never develop any symptoms from the virus, others will have periodic outbreaks of infections.
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.
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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.
Herpes Myths To Stop Freaking Out About
A surprising number of people you know probably have herpes.
Shocked? You shouldnt be, since the virus is very common. According to the World Health Organization, 3.7 billion people under age 50 have herpes simplex virus type 1 thats 67 percent of the global population in that age bracket. Another 417 million people between ages 15 and 49 worldwide have herpes simplex virus type 2 .
Many people consider HSV-1 more benign, but it turns out theres not much difference between the two types of virus. While its true that HSV-2 is a sexually transmitted disease and can cause genital sores or blisters, type 1 can do the same thing.
One big misconception is that cold sores are caused by HSV-1 and genital herpes are always type 2, but thats not always the case, says Sarah Vensel, a physician assistant in San Francisco. Cold sores are so common theyve been normalized at this point. But genital herpes is sometimes the exact same virus just in a different location.
Not only is herpes incredibly common its also totally manageable. Allow us to set your mind at ease and debunk three widespread herpes myths:
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Is There Anything Else I Need To Know About An Hsv Test
The best way to prevent genital herpes or another STD is to not have sex. If you are sexually active, you can reduce your risk of infection by
- Being in a long-term relationship with one partner who has tested negative for STDs
- Using condoms correctly every time you have sex
If you’ve been diagnosed with genital herpes, condom use can reduce your risk of spreading the infection to others.
Cost And Health Insurance
Depending on where you live and the lab you use, your HSV IgG blood test can cost between $35 and $80. Public clinics tend to be cheaper.
Genital HSV is considered an STI. But donât assume that a free STI clinic will have the test or provide it free of charge. Some may only offer free testing for:
Search for free or low-cost STI clinics in your area by using the GetTested locator offered by the CDC.
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What Else Do I Need To Know Before I Appear For An Hsv Igm Test
The following points can be noted to understand the finer aspects of the test and the viral infection. The IgM tests cannot be used to determine how long the infection has been prevalent in the body or how the patient got infected. The IgM blood test cannot accurately distinguish between HSV-1 and HSV-2 antibodies and in many cases can provide a false-positive result for HSV-2 virus. In addition, the test can also connect with other viruses like the varicella-zoster virus or cytomegalovirus and provide misleading results. Many patients experience regular herpes outbreaks while in some the virus can remain dormant. It has been noted that the virus can be triggered by certain factors like stress. Issues related to menstrual periods, fever or infections and excessive sun exposure or sunburn. The virus generally does not create any additional complications in a healthy person. The infections can get severe in the case of new-borns who are infected during birth and in individuals with weakened immune systems. It has been noted that herpes can make patients more vulnerable to HIV infections and up to 90% of HIV-infected individuals are found to be co-infected with HSV-2 virus. This is a very common infection around the world and as per statistics, the infections are most common in Africa and least prevalent in the USA.
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Is It A New Or Recurrent Infection
The common wisdom suggests that a herpes IgM blood test means that someone has been recently infected with herpes. However, this is not the whole story. Herpes IgM levels tend to go up early in an infection, and levels often go down with time.
This means a positive herpes IgM result is most often associated with a new infection. However, that is not the only time when IgM may be detected.
Individuals who were recently infected with herpes do tend to have positive HSV IgM tests. So do many people with recurrent herpes infections. Between 30% and 70% of people with recurrent herpes are positive on HSV IgM tests, depending on the test and the study.
In other words, an IgM test, without any other data, does not prove that infection a herpes infection is recent. Thats particularly true if it is accompanied by a positive herpes IgG test.
People will not become positive on an HSV IgG test until theyve been infected for at least several months. However, IgG levels are expected to remain high throughout the course of an infection, while IgM levels are more variable.
Therefore, if someone has positive results on both IgG and IgM tests, they may be having a recurrence. It is almost certainly not a new infection. A positive IgM test alone is more likely to be a new infection.
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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.
If A Pregnant Woman Gets Genital Herpes Is There A Chance Her Baby Can Get Infected
Yes. Even though adults with genital herpes may not have any symptoms, herpes infections in babies can be life-threatening. Women who get genital herpes during late pregnancy have a very high risk for having a baby with herpes infection, and these women may not even know they are infected. Women who get herpes during early pregnancy, or who are infected before they get pregnant can also spread herpes to their babies. Most babies with herpes get infected as they come into contact with the herpes virus while passing through the birth canal, but infection can also occur before birth or in the weeks after birth.
If you are pregnant and think that you or your partner may have genital herpes, tell your doctor. Your doctor can order testing and can talk to you about ways to lower your babys risk for infection.
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Can I Get An Sti Without Intercourse If We Are Just Fooling Around
Yes, you can get some STI just by intimate skin-to-skin touching or kissing of an infected area.
It doesnt matter whether youre heterosexual, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirit or questioning. STI can be transmitted by anyone.
Drugs and/or alcohol can impair judgement and lead to risky behaviour. When you or your partner are impaired and caught up in the moment, you may be more likely to have sex without a condom and take other risks that can increase your exposure to STI and unplanned pregnancy.
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Most STI have no obvious symptoms , so you may not know if you or your sexual partner has an infection. Thats why practising safer sex and getting tested regularly is so important.
Herpes Simplex Virus 1
Herpes Simplex Virus 1 is a strain of the herpes simplex virus. People may believe that HSV-1 is the same thing as oral herpes, and that it always causes cold sores to appear on the mouth or facial region, but thats not always true. HSV-1 can be acquired in the genital region, creating genital HSV-1.
Similarly, HSV-2 is popularly known as genital herpes, but HSV-2 can be acquired in the facial region creating oral HSV-2. Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 are nearly identical they share 50% of their DNA and produce almost indistinguishable symptoms. This is why its important to get tested for both strains of the disease.
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How Do Healthcare Providers Test For Herpes
How are you tested for herpes at a clinic or healthcare providerÃ¢s office? Healthcare providers will examine the location and severity of any active blisters or sores around the mouth or genital area. They may take a tissue sample of the sores to send to a laboratory for examination. A blood sample will be needed if an antibody test is used to check whether you have been infected with the herpes virus.
How Is The Test Used
Herpes testing may be used a few different ways:
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend screening for herpes in the general population, but it may be helpful in some cases, such as:
- If you have signs and symptoms, such as genital sores that may be related to herpes
- If you have or had a sex partner with genital herpes
- If you would like to have a complete exam for sexually transmitted diseases , especially if you have multiple sex partners if this is the case, you should discuss STD testing with your healthcare practitioner.
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Why The Test Is Performed
The test is done to find out whether a person has ever been infected with oral or genital herpes. It looks for antibodies to herpes simplex virus 1 and herpes simplex virus 2 . An antibody is a substance made by the body’s immune system when it detects harmful substances such as the herpes virus. This test does not detect the virus itself.
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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