What Is The Herpes Simplex Virus
The herpes simplex virus is a type of virus that causes infections in humans. Approximately 3.7 billion people under the age of fifty â or 67% â have been infected with HSV-1 in their lifetimes. There are about 491 million cases of HSV-2 worldwide â or 13% of the global population between the ages of 15 and 49.
HSV is spread through direct contact with the virus. This can happen during sex or while giving birth.
The virus leads to an increased risk of infection with human immunodeficiency virus . It can also cause you to develop more severe conditions if you have a compromised immune system.
HSV can have particularly problematic results if youâre infected with the virus when youâre born. The chance of passing it on while pregnant is low but â if it happens â it can lead to disabilities and death.
Thereâs also a social stigma associated with this virus that can be damaging to your mental health if you ever become infected.
How Long Do Sores From Herpes Simplex Last
If youre infected with HSV-1, commonly known as oral herpes, you may notice tingling or burning around your mouth in the days before a cold sore appears. These blisters break open and ooze fluid before forming a crust. Usually, sores last for seven to 10 days.
If youre infected with HSV-2, commonly known as genital herpes, your first outbreak may last between two to four weeks. Recurrent outbreaks usually last between three to seven days.
What Are They Doing At Stdcheckcom
STDcheck collaborates with more than 4,500 labs and testing centers across the countries to provide reliable yet affordable STD testings. STDcheck offers private STD testing with confidential results where nobody can t access it including the insurance company. STDcheck discreetly in providing the STDs lab tests for their customers. The results are quick and accurate, you can get them within 1-2 days after the test. If you want to consult your results, youll be able to speak to one of STDchecks doctors for medical advises and treatments.
All the laboratories affiliated with STDcheck are CLIA-Certified Labs. You can visit the local lab on the same day you order STD test via STDcheck. Its also well known for its 10-Test Panel which already covers common STDs including Syphilis, Gonorrhea, HIV 1& 2, Hepatitis A B C, Chlamydia, and Herpes 1& 2. Its very helpful especially when you dont know what STD individual test should be taken or as you need a more comprehensive answer regarding your STD condition. Your privacy is completely protected since all STDchecks tests comply with the HIPAA Privacy Rule.
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Useful Methods Include Testing An Actual Lesion
Keep in mind that thereâs no such thing as âsafeâ sex, only safer sex, which means using protection and being open and honest with your partner. âIt can definitely happen,â Friedman says of the chances of transmitting the virus to a partner without a visible outbreak. âIts called asymptotic shedding there are studies showing that the rates of transmission of HSV-2 are the same for symptomatic and asymptomatic.â He adds that this is why using protection during sexual contact is so important, regardless of what blood tests say. Unfortunately, you can never ensure your risk of transmission will be zero, whether or not you know you have herpes, but using a condom or dental dam will get you closer to it.
Can Herpes Simplex Virus Cause Serious Infections
Yes. The most serious, or life-threatening, HSV infections can occur in newborns who are infected during birth and in individuals with weakened immune systems , such as organ transplant recipients and people with HIV/AIDS. Neonatal herpes is a serious condition, but also very rare. While 25-30% of pregnant women have genital herpes, less than 0.1% of babies born in the U.S. each year get neonatal herpes. This means that most women with genital herpes give birth to healthy babies.
HSV lesions tend to be more extensive and persist longer in newborns and immunocompromised people than in individuals who have healthy immune systems.
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How Can I Prevent Transmitting Herpes
Although latex condoms can reduce the risk of transmitting most STIs by 98 percent, condoms dont prevent herpes transmission. This is because not all herpes sores occur in areas that are covered by a condom.
If youre experiencing an active outbreak, you can
- avoiding sexual activity until symptoms go away
- washing your hands thoroughly and applying medication with cotton swabs to reduce contact with sores
Taking a daily antiviral herpes medication can also help prevent transmission, shorten outbreaks, and manage symptoms.
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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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.
Will I Have To Pay For The Test Out Of Pocket
Youll have to check with your insurance network to see whether at-home STI tests are covered.
Insurance does typically cover them, but sites like Everlywell recommend verifying the purchase with your insurance.
Additionally, some networks may reimburse you for your purchase.
However, most at-home testing sites arent currently partnered with any insurance companies, which means youll have to reach out yourself.
If you dont have insurance, youll likely have to pay for the test out of pocket. Some sites like Priority STD dont accept insurance, so its a flat rate of $99 regardless of your coverage.
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About Our Herpes Type 1 Test
This HerpeSelect® test detects specific antibodies that fight the herpes simplex virus type 1 .
The recommended window period for the HerpeSelect® Herpes Type 1 Test is:
- 4-6 weeks post potential exposure.
The herpes simplex virus type 1 is a common incurable sexually transmitted disease that can be transmitted from infected bodily fluids such as saliva, vaginal fluid, semen, blister or sore fluid or even skin-to-skin contact. HSV-1 typically causes oral herpes however, both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be affect the mouth or genital area. Oral herpes can also be transmitted during kissing and sharing drinks and utensils.
This herpes blood test detects HSV-1 by looking for Immunoglobulin G , the most abundant type of antibody . If you have HSV-1 orally and/or genitally, the HerpeSelect® Herpes Type 1 test will detect the antibodies in your blood sample. Unlike swabbing, this test is able to detect herpes whether you are or are not experiencing symptoms. The IgG antibodies for HSV-1 are specific to HSV-1 so if you are looking to test for both strains of the herpes simplex virus, we offer the HerpeSelect® Herpes Type 1 and Type 2 Tests.
Genital And Oral Herpes Testing
- Herpes Simplex Virus 1 and 2
- Qualitative PCR
- Herpes Simplex Virus Culture
- Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1- and Type 2-Specific Antibodies
Free next day shipping and confidential results in 2-5 days
Trustworthy Medical Support
Real-time support services from our national network of physicians and nurses
Health Records You Control
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Questions For Your Doctor About Test Results
The following questions may be useful as patients review genital and oral herpes test results with their doctor:
- What type of test was conducted?
- What is my test result?
- 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?
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.
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How To Prevent The Spread Of Herpes
Although herpes is a lifelong virus that cant be cured, it goes through periods of dormancy between outbreaks. This means that while the virus is still present, its not actively replicating.
During this time, you may not experience any signs or symptoms of having the disease even if youve had a previous outbreak before.
However, you can still spread the herpes virus to your sexual partners at any time, even if no sores are present. In addition, although rare, its possible to spread oral herpes to the genital region and vice versa.
For this reason, its extremely important to be mindful of the following preventive measures:
- Tell your partners that you have genital or oral herpes. This allows them to make informed decisions about their own sexual health, and its the responsible thing to do.
- If youre experiencing the signs and symptoms of an upcoming outbreak, avoid all sexual contact. Youre most likely to spread the virus to others during an outbreak.
- Its possible to spread the herpes virus even without an outbreak. If youre worried about spreading the disease to a partner, research shows that antivirals are effective at reducing this possibility.
Having oral or genital herpes doesnt mean that you can no longer have sex. However, its your responsibility to prevent the spread of herpes to your sexual partner.
If you have herpes, you can still take care of your sexual health through open communication and safer sex.
What Is Being Tested
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.
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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Polymerase Chain Reaction Test
As with the viral culture, your doctor swabs or scrapes a sample from one of your sores. A lab gets the sample and looks for genes from the herpes virus. PCR test results usually come back to you within 24 hours.
Youre more likely to get this test if you have symptoms but its been longer than 48 hours since they showed up. In this case, you can rely on the results from this test more than the viral culture.
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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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Myth #: Your Sex Life Is Over
While theres no cure, herpes treatment is simple and can shorten or prevent outbreaks, so you can still have a love life.
People have a disproportionate fear of herpes in relation to any other STI, Grimes says. They feel like their sex lives are ruined forever and thats in no way the case.
If you have the virus, your doctor may prescribe a medication like Zovirax or Valtrex to keep on hand in case of a flare-up. And if you experience outbreaks often, your provider may recommend daily dosing. However you treat it, its worth remembering that herpes is a condition to manage it doesnt define you.
If you have to be perfect for your new partner, that partner will be looking a very, very long time to find a match! Grimes says. Everyone has something, and since one in six Americans between 14-49 have HSV-2, odds are very high that your next partner is in the same boat. The main issue is to have productive conversations around these issues.
So theres no reason for all the stigma and secrecy surrounding herpes, since its safe to assume more people have it than you think. And if youre diagnosed with the virus, your provider will help you find a treatment plan thats easy, effective, and fit for your lifestyle.
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How Can Herpes Be Tested/checked
Better2Know has three ways of testing for the Herpes virus:
- Blood Test if you have no symptoms
- Urine Test if you currently have symptoms
- Swab Test if you have a blister or other lesion for swabbing to see if it is caused by HSV.
At Better2Know, you can choose your test method: urine or a swab if you have symptoms, and blood if you do not. Results are available within 25 working days from us receiving your sample depending on which sample is taken. The test will tell you whether you have HSV-1, HSV-2, both types or neither.
At selected private sexual health clinics, Better2Know also provides instant Herpes testing. With this exclusive, popular Herpes testing option, you will receive your results from 10 minutes after sample collection.
You can also get a Home Sample Collection Kit by visiting our Home STI Tests page.
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In The Absence Of Answers
Herpes tests arent the only ones with a risk of false positive results. False positives can occur for any test that diagnoses viral infection based on antibodies, i.e., your bodys immune reaction, rather than direct detection of the virus. For similar diagnostics like HIV and hepatitis C testing, protocols automatically call for a second test that directly detects the virus whenever an antibody test comes back positive, said Paul Swenson, laboratory director in the department of public health of King County, Washington. Herpes, however, is a particularly challenging infection to directly test for, because the virus spends most of its time hiding in nerves. Swab tests can sometimes detect the virus during outbreaks, but this isnt an option for people without symptoms. Thus even the Western blot relies on antibodies, and may give indeterminate results to a small number of people.
But two steps of antibody testing are still more reliable than one step todays diagnostics for Lyme disease and syphilis are a two-step antibody testing approach, said Dr. Edward Hook, a medical epidemiologist specializing in STI screening and prevention at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, who questioned why such a standardized two-step approach hasnt taken firm hold for herpes.
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