Tuesday, November 22, 2022

How To Interpret Herpes Test Results

Why Is Testing Recommended Only In These Areas

Discontinuation of Herpes Simplex virus (HSV) IgM Testing

When a herpes outbreak occurs, the blistering and rawness that appears around the genitals, rectum, or mouth can be very painful. The sores which appear when an outbreak occurs can take weeks to heal properly. The herpes blood test can provide your medical provider with information about what can be expected in the future. This would include what medications would be necessary to control symptoms and how you could lower the risks of spreading the infection to a partner.

If you know that you have or had a sexual partner with genital herpes, this testing can tell if you also have the virus. For women who are pregnant, this blood test is very important because the fetus can become infected with HSV-1 or HSV-2 if the mother is infected. This can place the pregnancy at risk and in babies, a herpes infection can even be fatal.

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.

Do I Have To Specifically Ask For A Herpes Blood Test

You may need to speak with your medical provider if you want the herpes blood test. Even if you ask for all of the recommended testing for STDs, the blood test for herpes may not be included. This is because the local risk factors for infection and behavioral habits will determine if a doctor feels this test is necessary.

STD testing is generally performed on infections which have a serious outcome to the individual involved if the infection is not addressed. Since genital herpes does not cause serious consequences or outcomes for non-pregnant individuals, the testing may not even be ordered. If you are worried about this infection, however, you should speak to your doctor about your risks, your symptoms, and whatever treatment may be necessary.

Herpes is not considered a notifiable disease in the United States either, which means there is no specific data collected about this STD.

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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.

I Tested Positive For Herpes What Should I Do Now

STD Testing Example Test Results

For most people, having herpes does not affect their health or quality of life. To prevent passing on cold sores and genital herpes to others, a person can:

  • avoid kissing others when the virus is active
  • use condoms when having sex
  • avoid skin-to-skin contact during an active outbreak
  • avoid sharing towels, toothbrushes, and lipstick when they have sores around the mouth
  • wash their hands well after touching a sore

Having multiple sexual partners can increase the risk of

transmitting STIs such as herpes. People can decrease this risk by openly discussing STI status and prevention with any partners and practicing safe sex.

It is

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Why Do I Need To Undergo An Hsv Igm Test

The following conditions are some of the most common reasons for the test. To figure out the exact reason behind the formation of painful blisters or sores around the lips or in the genital area. To check if the sexual partner of a person with genital herpes is also infected by the same. To check for neonatal herpes in new-borns, whose mothers are infected with genital herpes. The doctor will check the physical symptoms of the infection and order for the test. Some of the common symptoms are mentioned below. The occurrence of blistering sores in the mouth or on the genitals Any pain during urination. An itching or burning sensation around the affected area. These symptoms can be accompanied by other general symptoms like fever, swollen lymph nodes, headaches, tiredness and lack of appetite. In some cases, HSV can also affect the eyes and can cause symptoms like eye pain, discharge, and a gritty feeling in the eye. A few people have an increased risk of infection from the virus as mentioned below. People with recurrent genital sores or atypical symptoms who have negative results on HSV culture. People who have a sex partner who has been diagnosed with genital herpes. People who have been tested positive for other sexually transmitted diseases. Individuals diagnosed with an HIV infection.

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.

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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.

Genital Herpes Is Common Shouldnt Cdc Recommend Testing For Everyone

Diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of herpes | Infectious diseases | NCLEX-RN | Khan Academy

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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Should I Get Tested Again

You may want to go for a repeat test after six months if you do not undergo regular sexually transmitted infection screening. In doing so, you’re more likely to identify an infection without missing the window in which the tests are accurate.

Speak with your healthcare provider about when it’s best for you to get tested, and if there are other tests you should consider.

When Do You Need A Herpes Antibodies Test

Herpes antibodies tests are not recommended when your doctor wants to diagnose an active infection. The best tests, in this case, are to collect a sample from you and attempt to culture the virus or test for the presence of its genome using a technique called polymerase chain reaction .

Should an active infection be detected with a PCR test, your doctor may prescribe antiviral medications to help prevent outbreaks or shorten their severity. When outbreaks occur when you are on these medications, theyâre typically shorter and create fewer lesions than when you arenât taking them.

Common antiviral medications include acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir.

Your doctor may recommend an antibody test in addition to these other tests for an active infection. But it is more likely that they will recommend this test for another reason, including if:

  • You have recurring symptoms but active test results are negative.
  • You believe you were recently exposed but donât yet have symptoms.
  • Youâre pregnant or trying to become pregnant.
  • You have HIV or have a high risk of encountering HIV.

Read Also: How To Reduce Herpes Flare Ups

Is It Possible To Get A False Positive Result

A false positive is when a test says you have a condition that you actually dont have. This can happen with the herpes IgM blood test.

In some cases you may not be infected at all. However, you may have a different virus that triggers a positive on this blood test. This may include the Epstein-Barr virus, which is in the herpes virus family, or parvovirus, a contagious virus that can lead to flu-like symptoms.

If you dont have symptoms, you may want to go back for IgG testing at a later date. If you do have symptoms, your healthcare provider can test the sores for herpes directly with a swab test.

A positive result is more likely to be accurate if you have or have had symptoms of a herpes outbreak.

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STD Testing Example Test Results

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Genital Herpes Is Common Why Doesnt Cdc Recommend Testing Everyone For This Std

CDC does not recommend herpes testing for people without symptoms. This is because diagnosing genital herpes in someone without symptoms has not shown any change in their sexual behavior nor has it stopped the virus from spreading. Also, false positive test results are possible. Even if you do not have symptoms, you should talk openly and honestly about your sexual history with your doctor to find out if you should be tested for any STDs, including herpes.

Although CDC does not recommend that everyone get tested for herpes, herpes testing may be useful in some situations. Herpes blood tests might be useful

  • If you have genital symptoms that could be related to herpes,
  • If you have a sex partner with genital herpes, or
  • If you want a complete STD exam, especially if you have multiple sex partners.

Please note that while a herpes blood test can help determine if you have herpes infection, it will not be able to tell you who gave you the infection.

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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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Acute Vs Chronic Infection

Acute

An acute EBV infection, also called a primary infection, causes mono. The associated symptoms usually resolve within weeks of catching the virus however, some symptoms may last longer .

After the symptoms go away, the virus is contained and enters a dormant phase wherein it stops reproducing itself and spreading.

Chronic

Chronic active EBV disease is a rare disorder in which a person is unable to successfully fight and contain the virus .

It is defined as a chronic illness, lasting longer than 3 months, in which a patient has high levels of EBV DNA in their blood in the absence of a weak immune system .

Symptoms of the disease mirror many of those of an acute infection, such as fever and swollen lymph glands. More serious complications such as an enlarged spleen and low red blood cell, white blood cell, and platelet counts occur frequently in these patients .

Most of those with a chronic infection will test negative for EBNA antibodies, or they may have very low levels .

Over time, their immune systems may fail, and if left untreated, they will develop opportunistic infections, multiorgan failure, and cancer .

The only effective treatment for chronic active EBV is bone marrow transplantation .

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Does My Healthcare Provider Include A Blood Test For Genital Herpes When They Test Me For Everything

Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) Diagnosis and Testing

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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How Do The Tests Work

HSV tests detect IgG and immunoglobulin M antibodies. IgG antibodies are present soon after infection with HSV and remain in the blood for life. A test result showing IGg antibodies will tell a person that they have experienced an infection in the past and that they have antibodies against the virus.

IgM antibodies appear before IgG antibodies but may disappear when the infection is inactive. Testing for IgM antibodies is not a useful way to distinguish between primary and recurrent episodes of HSV infection. Therefore, doctors do not recommend IgM testing.

A positive herpes antibody test cannot tell people where they have HSV infection or when they contracted the infection. It cannot tell if a person was capable of passing on the infection at the time of the test, nor can it tell if specific symptoms are due to herpes.

Once a sample comes back from laboratory analysis, a person will receive one of the following results:

Hsv 2 Blood Test Results Explained

The HSV 2 blood test is used to determine if there is a type 2 genital herpes infection in specific situations: if someone has genital symptoms that could be related to herpes or if someone has had a sexual partner who has symptomatic herpes at the time. The HSV 2 blood test is also sometimes ordered when performing a complete STD panel. It may also be recommend for individuals who have multiple sexual partners within a short period of time.

The HSV 2 blood test may only need to be given once. Herpes is a virus that creates a chronic, lifelong infection. Once someone tests positive for this virus, then they will always test positive for herpes. Because the virus is not believed to spread unless there is symptomatic genital herpes present during sexual intercourse, however, routine testing is generally considered unnecessary unless the risk factors are in place.

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