Herpes Virus Antigen Detection Test
Similar to the viral culture test, the antigen detection test still requires symptoms to be at their peak, and sores to be swabbed. The cells provided from your sample will be applied to a microscopic slide and examined for antigens of the herpes virus. This is sometimes done in place of or consecutively with the herpes viral culture test.2
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Questions For Your Doctor After At
The following questions about the results of at-home genital and oral herpes testing may be helpful for patients to discuss with their doctor:
- Is my at-home herpes test result reliable?
- 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?
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Diagnosis & Interpreting Results
Different labs provide different results for the same test. Some herpes test results may be phrased as positive, negative, yes, no, or may even provide a reference range indicating whether you are normal or not. If there is ever any confusion over what your results mean, we encourage you to call in and speak to a certified health education specialist. 7
What does it mean when your results say:
- Positive: indicates that you do have the herpes virus
- Negative: indicates that you do not have the herpes virus
- Yes: indicates that you do have the herpes virus
- No: indicates that you do not have the herpes virus
- Abnormal: indicates that you do have the herpes virus
- Normal: indicates that you do not have the herpes virus
- Equivocal: indicates that your test results were unclear
- Undetermined: indicates that your test results were unclear
- Reference Range: If you only see numbers on your results, these are most likely a reference range, that shows how many antibodies your body had built up against the virus. Because of variation in lab equipment and standards, different ranges can mean different things for the same test, depending on the lab and region that you are in. Your results should show whether you are within the desired range or not, but if there is ever any confusion, you should call in and speak to one of our certified health education specialists for help interpreting your results.
What To Think About
- Normal test results do not mean you do not have a herpes infection.
- Herpes is often diagnosed by symptoms and by knowing whether the person has had contact with an infected person. Sometimes a test is not needed. A person who has genital herpes needs to learn how to avoid spreading the disease, because the disease is more likely to be spread when he or she has sores. If you have recurrent outbreaks, especially during times of stress or illness, you can also spread the disease.
- You may want to know whether a herpes infection is due to HSV-1 or HSV-2 so you can take steps to prevent or treat outbreaks.
- A genital herpes infection can be spread from a mother to her baby during vaginal delivery. In a newborn, herpes can cause organ failure, brain infection, and death. If active herpes is present near the time of delivery, a caesarean delivery may be done to prevent infecting the baby.
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How Common Herpes Really Is
Enough people have herpes to make it a totally commonplace infection, even though we may not treat it as one.
Nearly 48 percent of people aged 14 to 49 in the United States were estimated to have HSV-1 between 2015 and 2016, according to the most recent data from the CDC. This high prevalence makes sense because many people actually get the virus from nonsexual contact as children, the CDC explains. This can happen when a parent greets a child with a kiss on the mouth or while a kid is playing with other little ones, since children arent exactly known for their respect of personal space. Remember: HSV-1 often presents as cold sores, but its possible that some people with HSV-1 actually have genital herpes.
So, about genital herpes. You may have heard that one in six people has this infection. Thats a little bit of an outdated figure, Christine Johnston, M.D., an associate professor and herpes researcher at the University of Washington School of Medicine, tells SELF. That number is related to national survey data released by the CDC in 2010 and based on the years 2005 through 2008. This nationally representative research, published in the CDCs 2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey , tested peoples blood samples for antibodies of HSV-1 and HSV-2, estimating that 16.2 percent of Americans aged 14 to 49 had HSV-2 between the years 2005 and 2008. Thats around one in six.
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Causes Of Herpes Esophagitis
Herpes Esophagitis can be caused by either the herpes simplex I or the herpes simplex II viruses. It is more commonly caused by the oral herpes variant but it does also show up as simplex II less often.
Oral herpes or HSV-1 is most often passed through infected saliva swapping from individual to individual. It is important to get tested for both strains of HSV and alert any potential sexual partners if you test positive. Oral herpes can be passed from the mouth to the genitals if oral sex is performed during an active outbreak.
Genital herpes can cause herpes esophagitis in cases where an individual performs oral sex on another individual with an active HSV-2 outbreak. Protection like a condom or dental dam can help prevent transmission of HSV-2 so if you suspect you have a HSV-2 infection and are going to engage in sexual intercourse be sure to use proper protection.
Reasons why an immune system might be compromised include:
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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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When Should I Get A Genital Or Oral Herpes Test
Testing for the viruses that cause genital and oral herpes may be ordered when a patient develops signs and symptoms of a herpes infection. Although many people who contract HSV never notice symptoms, signs of an initial infection appear 2 to 20 days after infection and depend on the type of HSV causing the infection.
When signs and symptoms of an initial infection occur, they may include:
- Small sores on the skin
- Tingling, itching, or burning on the skin
- Fever, headache, or body aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
After the initial infection, HSV remains dormant inside of the body. HSV can reactivate throughout a patients life, causing symptoms of genital or oral herpes to reappear. While the trigger for an HSV outbreak is often unknown, potential triggers include a fever, stress, physical trauma, and a suppressed immune system.
Generally, expert organizations do not recommend herpes testing for patients without symptoms. An exception may be made for certain patients, including:
- Patients who have a partner with genital herpes
- Patients seeking a more complete STD test panel, including people with multiple sexual partners
- Babies born to a mother who has HSV
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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.
Who Should Get Tested And How Often
The CDC only recommends testing for herpes when symptoms are apparent. Herpes testing is not often recommended for people without symptoms. This is because diagnosing genital herpes in someone without symptoms has not shown any change in the sexual behavior nor has it stopped the virus from spreading.5
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What You Need To Know About Herpes And How Its Transmitted
Two versions of the herpes simplex virus can cause this infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention : herpes simplex virus type 1 and herpes simplex virus type 2 .
You might be thinking, Oooh, wait, HSV-1 causes oral herpes, and HSV-2 causes genital herpes, right? Technically, yes. But thats not the full picture. Both viruses can infect either your mouth or your genitals through skin-to-skin contact, the CDC explains.
HSV-1 has a predilection for the oral mucosa, but cases affecting the genitals are rising, Susan Bard, M.D., a New York City board-certified dermatologist and adjunct clinical instructor at the Mount Sinai Hospital, tells SELF. This can happen if, say, a person with HSV-1 in their mouth passes the infection to someones genitals while performing oral sex. And although HSV-2 is still behind most cases of genital herpes, it can cause oral herpes when someone with this infection on their genitals passes it to another persons mouth during oral sex.
You might think these signs would make it really obvious that something is up with your health if you have herpes. But its also entirely possible to have herpes without exhibiting any symptoms at all. The virus can lie dormant in the body without ever making itself known. Thats why so many people have herpes without realizing it, the CDC explains.
What If You Test Positive
If you test positive for herpes, then you have the herpes virus. There is no way of knowing whether you have oral herpes or genital herpes unless the symptoms occur orally or genitally. As there is no cure for herpes, there is nothing that can be done to cure the virus, except to treat symptoms as they occur.
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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.
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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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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Is It Possible To Sleep With Someone With Herpes And Not Get It
Yes. Herpes can be passed on even if a partner has no sores or other signs and symptoms of an outbreak. And if a partner has a herpes outbreak, its even more likely to be spread. Even when a person doesnt have visible sores, the only surefire way to protect against getting genital herpes is abstinence.
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How Can People Test For Herpes
A person can ask for a herpes test at any sexual health clinic or a doctors office. A healthcare professional will either swab a blister or draw a blood sample.
At-home herpes tests often require a blood sample through a finger prick.
Once a person receives their test results, they should contact a doctor to discuss treatment options, if necessary.
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 Ã¢ normally, IgM antibodies appear first.
- IgM antibodies may only last a few months and may not be made after the first outbreak Ã¢ but IgG antibodies last indefinitely and are made during all outbreaks.
- IgG antibodies can distinguish between HSV-1 and HSV-2 and IgM antibodies canÃ¢t.
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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 Should You Get Tested For Oral Herpes
Whenever you observe any sign of oral herpes infection, you should consider tests as mentioned above. A patient can see the symptoms from day 2 to 20. More symptoms will be there when the infection grows. You must check the following symptoms:
- Small skin sores
- Itching or tingling sensation on the skin
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Testing For Genital Herpes
If you think you may have genital herpes you should make an appointment with your GP or local sexual health services.
If there are symptoms present such as blisters, sores and ulcers, your doctor or nurse may be able to make a diagnosis straight away.
If you have visible blisters, your doctor or nurse may take a swab for testing, to check if this is herpes and what type. This swab can also test for another STI which causes blisters called syphilis.
The genital herpes swab tests is very reliable, though if the ulcer is too dry then the result may be less likely to find a positive result.
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