Myth: Ive Never Had An Outbreak So I Definitely Dont Have Herpes
Unfortunately, the lack of a visible outbreak doesnt mean youre herpes-free. Many people infected with the virus never experience an outbreak, Mary Rosser, MD, PhD, director of obstetrics and gynecology at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, tells Health. And when they do, it frequently isnt recognized. This explains why, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , 87.4% of infected individuals have no clue.
Outbreaks can be very mild and even confused with things like heat rash, jock itch, yeast infections, allergic reactions, Fred Wyand, director of communications for the American Sexual Health Association , tells Health. So while some cases do involve pronounced symptoms, most never do.
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.
How Often Should I Get Screened For Stis
Because STIs are so widespread, its a good idea to get tested from time to time especially since STIs dont always cause obvious symptoms. All people between 13 and 64 years old should be checked for HIV at least once.
How often you need to be screened varies from person to person. You may need to be screened more often if you:
Are under the age of 25
Have a sexual partner with an STI
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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.
Can I Get Genital Herpes More Than Once
There isnt a cure for HSV-2, the virus that causes genital herpes. Infections can come back . Recurring symptoms are usually milder than the first outbreak. Symptoms dont last as long with later outbreaks. Some people may only have one or two outbreaks during their lifetime. Others may have as many as four or five outbreaks a year.
After infection, the virus moves from skin cells to nerve cells. In the nerve cells, it becomes inactive . Certain things may reactivate the virus, such as:
- Illness or fever.
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Best Home Herpes Tests
Many at-home herpes tests are available to purchase online. The sections below look at four of the best options.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried any of these products. All information presented here is purely research-based.
Best subscription for herpestest
LetsGetCheckeds home kits can test for both HSV-1 and HSV-2.
A person receives a collection kit with all the tools they need to collect their samples at home. These include 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 about $100, but anyone who requires regular testing can purchase a subscription and pay less per kit.
Once a person has purchased a test, they need to register it on Everlywells website. They then need to post the collected samples with prepaid shipping.
This test costs around $150. However, people can subscribe for twice-yearly tests and save money per kit.
Is There A Cure Or Treatment For Herpes
There is no cure for herpes. Antiviral medications can, however, prevent or shorten outbreaks during the period of time the person takes the medication.11 In addition, daily suppressive therapy for herpes can reduce the likelihood of transmission to partners.11
There is currently no commercially available vaccine that is protective against genital herpes infection. Candidate vaccines are in clinical trials.
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How To Avoid Genital Herpes
Using condoms reduces the risk of contracting all sexually transmitted infections including genital herpes.
Genital herpes can be passed on even when there are not blisters present.
However, the blisters and sores are highly infectious, so if you or a partner have cold sores or genital herpes:
- avoid kissing when you, or a partner, have cold sores around the mouth
- avoid oral sex when you, or a partner, have mouth or genital sores
What Are The Complications Of Genital Herpes
Genital herpes can cause recurrent painful genital sores in many adults, and a herpes infection can be severe in people with suppressed immune systems. Regardless of severity of symptoms, genital herpes frequently causes psychological distress in people who know they are infected.
In addition, HSV-2 can lead to potentially fatal infections in babies. It is important that women avoid contracting herpes during pregnancy because a newly acquired infection during late pregnancy poses a greater risk of transmission to the baby. If a woman has active genital herpes at delivery, a cesarean section is usually performed. Fortunately, infection of a baby from a woman with herpes infection is rare.
Herpes may play a role in the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Herpes can make people more susceptible to HIV infection, and it can make HIV-infected individuals more likely to spread the infection to others.
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Herpes Testing: Types Accuracy Timing And Necessity
In this section, weÃ¢ll give you information about herpes testing.
Testing is what ultimately establishes or rule out a diagnosis of herpes. All the other weÃ¢ve talked aboutÃ¢what you feel, what you see, and your odds of getting itÃ¢help us with the diagnosis, but theyÃ¢ve canÃ¢t establish it or confirm it.
This section will summarize the different types of herpes tests, their accuracy, how theyÃ¢re interpreted, and when theyÃ¢re necessary. Tables with important statistics will be followed by FAQ answered by Ã¢Dr. F,Ã¢ an STD expert.
So, if you want to know all about herpes testing, this chapter is for you!
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How Do People Get Genital Herpes
Infections are transmitted through contact with HSV in herpes lesions, mucosal surfaces, genital secretions, or oral secretions. 5 HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be shed from normal-appearing oral or genital mucosa or skin. 7,8 Generally, a person can only get HSV-2 infection during genital contact with someone who has a genital HSV-2 infection. However, receiving oral sex from a person with an oral HSV-1 infection can result in getting a genital HSV-1 infection. 4 Transmission commonly occurs from contact with an infected partner who does not have visible lesions and who may not know that he or she is infected. 7 In persons with asymptomatic HSV-2 infections, genital HSV shedding occurs on 10.2% of days, compared to 20.1% of days among those with symptomatic infections. 8
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How To Read Your Results
Your HSV test results will likely be reported as negative or positive :
- Negative. The herpes virus was not found. However, you may still have an HSV infection if your results were negative. It may mean the sample didnt have enough virus to be detected. If you still have symptoms of herpes, you may need to order another test.
- Positive. HSV was found in your sample. It may mean you have an active infection or contracted the virus in the past .
If your test results are positive for HSV, talk with a doctor about your next steps.
What Are The Risks Associated With Herpes
If you have symptoms for Herpes, the use of condoms might not protect your sexual partner from getting the virus from your infected areas that are not covered by the condom. Therefore, it is advised to abstain from sex if you have symptoms.
Neonatal Herpes can occur in rare cases and might lead to lasting neurologic disability or even death of the infant. Pregnant women who get their first viral infection during late pregnancy are at a higher risk of acquiring the disease than those infected prior to pregnancy.
The symptoms and pains associated with recurrence of Herpes might lead to psychological distress, which could negatively affect the quality of life and sexual relationships of infected individuals.
If Herpes is left untreated, there is an increased risk of getting other sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
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Why Do I Need Herpes Simplex Virus Test
The Herpes Virus test is needed in the following conditions:
- To figure out the reason behind the sores around the mouth and/or in the genital area.
- To check if the sexual partner of a person with genital herpes is also infected with HSV
- For the diagnosis of neonatal herpes in newborns, whose mums are infected with genital herpes
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Who Decides Which Diseases Are Notifiable And Why
The Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists works with CDC to determine if a particular disease should be nationally notifiable. To make this decision, they follow a number of public health principles, for example, whether or not it is treatable whether or not it is preventable how common it is whether or not a public health response is needed whether or not there is a good source of information on the number of cases and whether or not it represents a significant public health threat . Information on HSV-1 and HSV-2 infections already exists in NHANES, so herpes infections have not been classified as notifiable diseases.
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Myth #: You Get Tested For It Every Time You Ask For An Sti Check
In the midst of reporting this piece, I happened to see my OB/GYN. Regarding herpes, he told me, and I quote, We can land a man on the moon but we cant figure out herpes diagnosis.
So, heres the thing: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention doesnt recommend routine herpes testing, which means that unless you specifically ask for it, youre not getting tested for it. This might seem like a massive oversight, but there are a number of good reasons for this.
When you do blood testing for herpes, its very difficult to interpret, says NYC-based gynecologist Alyssa Dweck, MD. It might tell you youve been exposed at one point at your life, but it wont tell you when that happened or who you got it fromso the usual STD screen doesnt test for herpes in the blood unless people ask for it. Even then, a positive result will mean youll be told youve been exposed to herpes, which isnt quite the same thing as being told you have it. Plus, per the CDC, diagnosing someone without symptoms via a blood test has not shown to change their sexual behavior or stop the spread of the virus.
How Can Herpes Be Prevented
Correct and consistent use of latex condoms can reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of transmitting or acquiring genital herpes because herpes virus shedding can occur in areas that are not covered by a condom.25,26
The surest way to avoid transmission of STDs, including genital herpes, is to abstain from sexual contact, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested for STDs and is known to be uninfected.
Persons with herpes should abstain from sexual activity with partners when herpes lesions or other symptoms of herpes are present. It is important to know that even if a person does not have any symptoms, he or she can still infect sex partners. Sex partners of infected persons should be advised that they may become infected and they should use condoms to reduce the risk. Sex partners can seek testing to determine if they are infected with HSV.
Daily treatment with valacyclovir decreases the rate of HSV-2 transmission in discordant, heterosexual couples in which the source partner has a history of genital HSV-2 infection. 27 Such couples should be encouraged to consider suppressive antiviral therapy as part of a strategy to prevent transmission, in addition to consistent condom use and avoidance of sexual activity during recurrences.
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Reasons Not To Get A Herpes Test
Should you take a herpes test if you have no symptoms of this STI? Heres what experts advise.
If you think you have genital herpes because you have a sore on or near your genitals, a doctor or nurse can test the sore and diagnose you. But how do you test for herpes if you have no symptoms and are simply worried youve been exposed to the virus? There is a blood test available, but experts disagree about whether its worth the trouble. Here are a few arguments for not bothering with the herpes test.
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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What Happens During A Herpes Test
If you have blisters or sores, your doctor or nurse will gently take a sample of fluid from the sores with a swab and test it.
If you dont have any sores, talk with your doctor or nurse about whether a blood test for herpes makes sense for you. But herpes tests aren’t normally recommended unless you do have symptoms.
The idea of getting tested may seem scary, but try to chill out. STD testing is a regular part of being a responsible adult and taking care of your health. And herpes tests are quick and usually painless.
Are There Any Risks To The Test
There is no known risk to having a swab test.
There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.
If you had a lumbar puncture, you may have pain or tenderness in your back where the needle was inserted. You may also get a headache after the procedure.
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Myth: People With Herpes Must Be Promiscuous
The reality of any STI is you dont need to sleep around to get infected. This is especially true for herpes, considering theres such a large population of asymptomatic carriers, says Dr. Dardik. While having more partners obviously increases your risk of any kind of any kind of sexually transmitted infection, the reverse doesnt always hold, she points out. In other words, all it takes is one partner.
Herpes Lab Cultures Only Accurate Some Of The Time
Many doctors and health care professionals are not up-to-date about herpes diagnosis and will tell you that the only way to accurately diagnose whether or not you have the genital herpes virus is by taking a swab from an active herpes sore or lesion and sending it to the lab for a culture test. However, this only works if the patients sore is fairly new or else the virus may no longer be active on the skin. If you get a Herpes Lab Culture and it comes out negative, you may still have genital herpes. Because most herpes outbreaks are short and mild, and because most people have few, mild or even NO outbreaks, we highly recommend taking a herpes blood test when no active sores or lesions are present, and in ADDITION to a Herpes Lab Culture when there is a sore present.
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