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How To Test For Herpes Simplex Virus

Signs And Symptoms Of Herpes

Discontinuation of Herpes Simplex virus (HSV) IgM Testing

Oral herpes is an infection in the mouth, caused by HSV-1 . Symptoms often include cold sores or fever blisters, but you can have oral herpes without any symptoms.

The herpes simplex virus can be dormant until an active outbreak occurs. The initial infection typically has the worst symptoms, ranging from flu-like symptoms and swollen lymph nodes to headaches. Sores may occur in and around the lips and mouth. Recurring infections are usually milder, and may include redness, itching, or swelling. Painful, fluid-filled blisters can occur and are highly contagious. These blisters often turn into sores , which will then scab over and typically heal in a few days.

Symptoms of genital herpes range from none to more severe manifestations . The majority of genital HSV infections are mild, with little to no symptoms following the initial outbreak. For people who do experience symptoms, the usual course begins with genital inflammation, where the skin may itch or burn. Blister-like sores may appear. The sores may open, scab over, and heal.

Other indirect symptoms that can occur during an active herpes virus infection include fever, headaches, muscle aches, and a burning sensation during urination.

If you think you may have a herpes infection, home testing could be a convenient option for you. If youâre wondering how to get tested for herpes at home, thereâs good news: testing for HSV-2 is easy with the Everlywell female STD Test or male STD Test.

How Do You Get Herpes

The skin on your genitals, mouth, and eyes can be infected easily. Other areas of skin may get infected if theres a way for the herpes virus to get in, like through a cut, burn, rash, or other sores. You dont have to have sex to get herpes. Sometimes herpes can be passed in non-sexual ways, like if a parent with a cold sore gives you a peck on the lips. Most people with oral herpes got it when they were kids. A mother can pass genital herpes to a baby during vaginal childbirth, but thats pretty rare.

You can spread herpes to other parts of your body if you touch a herpes sore and then touch your mouth, genitals, or eyes without washing your hands first. You can also pass herpes to someone else this way.

Herpes is most contagious when sores are open and wet, because fluid from herpes blisters easily spreads the virus. But herpes can also shed and get passed to others when there are no sores and your skin looks totally normal.

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There Are Two Common Blood Tests Used To Identify Herpes And Theyre Often Misleading

âI had a patient once who underwent this test, which was positive, and was told she has herpes, which to her was devastating and life-altering,â Friedman says. âShe burst into tears when I explained the significance or lack thereof with this test, which is very misleading.â There are two common blood tests used to identify herpes: IgG and IgM. The IgM test is still used by some doctors even though it has been denounced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . According to the American Sexual Health Association , IgM tests can lead to deceptive results, as well as false assumptions about how and when a person acquired HSV.

And thatâs not all: IgM tests fail to accurately distinguish between HSV-1 and HSV-2 antibodies, leading them to provide false-positive results for HSV-2. In other words, if youâve been exposed to oral herpes , results of the IgM test could lead you to believe youâre positive for genital herpes, when in fact you simply have antibodies against HSV-1.

IgG tests, on the other hand, are more accurate, but arenât without their own issues. For instance, ASHA says that while an IgG test can distinguish between HSV-1 and HSV-2, the problem is that the time it takes for IgG antibodies to reach a detectable level varies from person to person. This means that even with accurate results, someone could get a false-negative if they have the test administered too soon after contracting the virus .

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Recommended Specimens And Tests In Symptomatic People

NAAT

NAAT approaches sensitivity and specificity of 100%, with rapid turn-around of resultsFootnote 1Footnote 22Footnote 23.

Testing by NAAT is appropriate when:

Viral culture

Cultures from lesions caused by HSV can yield positive results within 24 hours.

Culture permits the identification of HSV typeFootnote 25Footnote 26. It also provides information on susceptibility, making it appropriate when antiviral resistance is suspectedFootnote 27.

Sensitivity varies depending on the lesion being sampled Footnote 21. Sensitivity of culture declines when lesions start to heal and is low for recurrent lesionsFootnote 21. Due to its superior sensitivity, consider NAAT when a false negative culture result is suspectedFootnote 1Footnote 23. If NAAT is not available, viral culture can be repeated on fresh lesions.

Type-specific serology

Consult the local laboratory for the availability of HSV TSS.

A study of TSS showed a sensitivity of 80.5% and specificity of 98.5% for HSV-2, and a sensitivity of 91% and specificity of 96.4% for HSV-1Footnote 28.

TSS testing can demonstrate whether partners are serodifferent or serodiscordant or concordant .

TSS may be useful in the following situations:

TSS should not be used for screening asymptomatic people because:

  • A positive serological result does not confirm a diagnosis of genital herpes: it could be due to orolabial infectionFootnote 3.
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    How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Herpes Simplex

    Preventing HSV-1

    You can reduce your risk of contracting HSV-1 by avoiding physical contact with someone who has a cold sore. People can still spread HSV-1 when cold sores arent present, but its less likely.

    If someone has an active HSV-1 infection, avoid:

    • Sharing utensils, cups, lip balms or other personal care products.
    • Touching the skin near their mouth.

    Preventing HSV-2

    If youre sexually active, you can take these steps to protect yourself and others from the herpes virus and other STIs:

    • Be monogamous with one sexual partner or limit your number of partners.
    • Get tested for STIs and complete any prescribed treatment.
    • Tell your sexual partners if you have genital herpes so they can get tested.
    • Use condoms during intercourse and dental dams during oral sex.

    Wash your hands often if you have an outbreak or are around someone with symptoms.

    If your sexual partner has genital herpes, these actions can lower your risk of getting the virus:

    • Dont have sex when your partner has active symptoms. Condoms may not cover all sores, so you may still get the virus.
    • Make sure your partner takes antiviral medication as prescribed.
    • Wait to have sex until scabs fall off active lesions.

    Is A Blood Test For Genital Herpes Included When I Ask To Be Tested For Everything Why Does Cdc Recommend Testing For Other Stds But Not Herpes

    Herpes blood tests may or may not be included. Your doctor chooses STD tests based on your sexual behaviors , as well as how common the infection is in the area that you live in. This is why you should have an open and honest discussion with your doctor about your sex practices and history. When you go in for STD testing, it is important to ask your doctor which infections you are and are not being tested for, and why.

    STD tests are usually done for infections that have serious outcomes if they are not treated. For example, finding and treating curable STDs like chlamydia can stop them from causing serious complications like infertility in women. Genital herpes does not usually result in serious outcomes in healthy, non-pregnant adults. More often, the stigma and shame from a genital herpes infection can be more troubling to someone who is infected than the disease itself. If you are worried about genital herpes, you should talk with your doctor about whether you should be tested.

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    How Much Do At

    Most insurance companies do not cover herpes testing, either at-home or in-person. At-home tests cost an average of around $120 to $130, although some companies offer a discount for people who subscribe to regular testing. If your insurance does cover herpes testing, consider using one of the companies that bill insurance. This may be able to reduce your cost significantly. In some instances, you may be able to get reimbursed by your insurance company for testing.

    Whens The Right Time To Get Tested For Stds

    Understanding Herpes Testing

    STDs have different incubation periods. People react differently to STDs, with some people able to produce antibodies as early as a few days after exposure. To get reliable results, youll want to get tested after these incubation periods:

    • chlamydia : 7 to 21 days
    • gonorrhea : 1 to 14 days
    • syphilis: 3 weeks to 20 years
    • hepatitis A: 15 to 50 days
    • hepatitis B: 60 to 150 days
    • hepatitis C: 2 to 26 weeks
    • oral herpes: 2 to 12 days
    • genital herpes: 2 to 12 days
    • HPV: 1 month to 10 years

    trichomoniasis: 5 to 28 days

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    How Does Genital Herpes Affect Pregnancy

    Herpes simplex virus doesnt affect fertility or your ability to conceive. Pregnant women diagnosed with HSV-2 should start a daily antiviral at 36 weeks of pregnancy as prescribed, to prevent outbreaks during delivery. If you have an active infection at the time of childbirth, you can pass the herpes virus to your baby. Neonatal herpes puts a baby at risk for blindness, brain damage, skin infections and death. Your healthcare provider will perform a cesarean section to lower this risk.

    Is There Anything Else I Should Know

    Herpes can make people more susceptible to HIV infection. The skin lesions give other sexually transmitted diseases , including HIV, openings for entering the body. Likewise, it can make HIV-infected individuals more infectious. Infection with HSV can also increase HIV viral load. HSV-2 infection is a significant opportunistic infection in HIV-infected individuals due to immune system deficiencies up to 90% of HIV-infected individuals are co-infected with HSV-2.

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    V Symptoms Of Oral Herpes

    In addition to the presence of fever blisters and cold sores around the mouth, the following symptoms of oral herpes may appear:

    • Newborns may experience fever, become lethargic, or have seizures.
    • Young children may also experience fever or flu-like symptoms.
    • Adults may have a sore throat and lymph node swelling.

    If you have symptoms, avoid kissing people on the mouth, performing oral sex, or sharing items such as cups and utensils.

    While some people experience severe or mild symptoms, others may not have any symptoms.

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    How To Choose The Right Herpes Test For You

    Product FERTILITY TEST Herpes Simplex Virus II IgG or IgM Test

    Every herpes test has its own benefits and drawbacks. Its best to discuss your options with a medical professional to make the right choice for your healthcare needs.

    It may be helpful to choose your herpes test based on your symptoms. Early in the disease, before a clear herpes outbreak appears, some test methodologies like a PCR test and an antibody blood test can yield false-negative results. On the other hand, a viral culture may yield false-negative results later in the disease.

    If you want to receive test results that provide a comprehensive evaluation of your infection, consider using multiple herpes testing methods. If getting a rapid result is your priority, a PCR test is the fastest option.

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    Frequently Asked Questions About Sti Testing

    By Donna White | Aug. 16, 2018, 2:01 p.m.

    Missouri has STIs. Do you? Theres only one way to find out: get yourself tested.

    Many people know they should get tested for STIs, but arent sure how testing works or what to expect when they get to the health center. Sexually transmitted infections may seem scary, but getting yourself tested doesnt have to be. Here are some of the most common questions we get about STI testing.

    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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    How Can You Get Hsv

    All strains of the herpes virus are extremely contagious and can be spread through saliva, sores, and skin-to-skin contact where the outbreaks occur. The herpes virus sheds, releasing traces of the virus periodically, even without visible symptoms. This means that its able to be contracted even when sores are not present. However, the virus is most contagious when sores are present.

    What Is Being Tested

    Herpes Simplex Virus

    Herpes is a common viral infection caused by the herpes simplex virus . The virus exists as two main types, HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV testing identifies the presence of the virus in a sample from a blister, sore or fluid to diagnose an active herpes infection or testing detects antibodies in the blood to determine previous exposure to herpes.

    Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 are contagious and periodically cause small fever blisters that break to form open lesions.

  • HSV-1 primarily causes blisters or âcold soresâ around the mouth .
  • HSV-2 usually causes lesions around the genital area.
  • However, both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can affect either the oral or genital areas.

    The herpes simplex virus can be passed from person-to-person through skin contact while the sores are open and healing and sometimes when there are no visible sores. HSV-2 is the type most often spread during sex, but HSV-1 may also infect the genital area during oral sex.

    Most people who have HSV-2 are unaware they are infected because signs and symptoms may be mild and go unnoticed.

    Once you are infected and the initial infection resolves, the virus remains in your body in a latent form for the rest of your life. During periods of stress or illness, the virus may reactivate and you may have periodic outbreaks. People with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS or those who have had an organ transplant, may have more frequent and serious outbreaks of HSV.

    Herpes may be tested a few different ways:

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    How Long Does It Take For Symptoms Of Herpes To Appear

    It generally takes anywhere from 4 to 7 days for herpes symptoms to appear. Both genital and oral herpes outbreaks have similar symptoms.

    The primary symptom of a herpes outbreak is sores that resemble blisters, called herpes lesions, on the mouth or genitals.

    In addition, people may also experience the following symptoms prior to the outbreak:

    • pain and redness, especially around the area the outbreak will occur
    • itching and tingling, primarily in the outbreak area
    • flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue, fever, or swollen lymph nodes

    Most of the symptoms that occur before an outbreak indicate that the virus is replicating. Symptoms are usually the worst during the first herpes outbreak.

    According to the

    Some people with the herpes virus are asymptomatic, which means that they dont experience any physical symptoms of the disease. This doesnt mean that they cant spread the disease, however.

    Anyone who has the herpes virus, whether symptomatic or not, can spread the virus to others.

    If you have the herpes virus and your body has produced antibodies, it can be detected on a blood test, even if you have no symptoms. The only time the virus might not be detected on a test is if youve been tested too early.

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