Wednesday, April 17, 2024

How To Test If You Have Genital Herpes

When Is It Ordered

What You Need to Know About Genital Herpes

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.

Ways To Limit Exposure

There are sexually active couples out there who have managed for years to prevent the spread of the disease from one partner to the other. It takes care and attention to detail, but it is definitely possible.

First, try to avoid having sex when there are any blisters or sores present. Having sex during an outbreak is the easiest way to give someone herpes.

Beyond safe sex practices, for those with recognizable symptoms, not spreading the virus hinges on knowing when a flare-up is occurring even before any cold sores show up. Most often, that means looking out for a âtinglingâ sensation in and around the infected area. Sometimes, the skin has a mild burning feeling, and muscles nearby may feel like theyâre âasleep.â

For those without recognizable, symptoms, itâs a question of being tested. If youâre sexually active, and especially if you find out any past partner is infected, get tested for herpes, either by your doctor or at a clinic. For asymptomatic carriers, being aware of your condition and using a condom absolutely every time you have sex can dramatically reduce the chances of infecting someone else.

For more information on herpes and related topics, look over the links on the next page.

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Recommended Specimens And Tests In Symptomatic People


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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    What Percentage Of The Population Has Herpes

    What percentage of the population has herpes? More than 3.7 billion people under the age of 50 about 67 percent of the global population are infected with herpes simplex virus type 1 , according to a new report from the World Health Organization.

    • HSV-2 infection is more common in women than in men (almost 1 out of 9.
    • HSV-2 infection is also more common in blacks than in whites
    • Genital herpes is common in the United States. More than one out of every six people aged 14 to 49 years have genital herpes.

    What Are The Symptoms And Signs Of Herpes

    Is this genital herpes??

    Oral and genital Herpes infections often have no symptoms or mild symptoms that can either go unnoticed or be mistaken for other types of bacterial or fungal infections, in both men and women. Occasionally, the virus may be present with no visible signs and can still be passed on, by a process called asymptomatic viral shedding.

    Did you know?

    1 in 3 people with Herpes will have symptoms, whilst 2 in 3 will only have mild symptoms or none at all.

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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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    Reliability And Choosing A Home Test

    People who are considering buying a home test may wish to seek advice from a pharmacist on which test is likely to be best for them. The pharmacist may also be able to show them how to collect the sample at home to prevent inaccuracies.

    People who are looking for an at-home herpes test should consider the following before making a purchase:

    • Clear information: The company should offer all the information that a person needs for testing, including clear and complete instructions.
    • Consultations: Some companies offer consultations for people who wish to discuss their sexual health concerns, particularly if they receive a positive result.
    • Treatment plan: Online providers may suggest further testing or treatment depending on the individuals results and concerns.
    • Certified laboratories: Some companies work with laboratories with

    Anyone who has sexual contact with someone who has received a herpes diagnosis should contact a doctor as soon as possible.

    People who have received a positive test result may also wish to consider seeking medical advice.

    Currently, herpes is not curable, but doctors can prescribe medications to reduce the frequency and severity of the symptoms. This may help lower the chance of the infection spreading to other individuals.

    Below are some common questions about at-home herpes tests.

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    What Affects The Test

    Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

    • If a culture sample is taken from a crusted, older sore.
    • If a blood sample is taken before antibodies against HSV have formed. This period is called the window period or seroconversion period.
    • If you are taking antiviral medicines, such as acyclovir, famciclovir, ganciclovir, or valacyclovir.

    What You Need To Know About Herpes And How Its Transmitted

    Herpes Spreads, Even Without Symptoms

    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.

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    When Can A Blood Test Be Performed

    Blood tests can be performed even when there are no symptoms present. If the herpes antibodies are found in the blood, it means that herpes simplex is latent in the body.

    This method of testing has the advantage that it can be done even when a person has no symptoms, so it is a very effective way to detect an established herpes infection. Blood tests do not require swabbing a lesion, so they can be done long after symptoms have faded.

    Type-specific blood tests are ideal for those who have had a history of genital symptoms but have never had a successful confirmatory test.

    Testing With No Symptoms

    Blood tests can be used when a person has no visible symptoms but has concerns about having herpes. Blood tests do not actually detect the virus instead, they look for antibodies in the blood.

    IgM vs. IgG

    When an individual contracts herpes, the immune system responds by developing antibodies to fight the virus: IgG and IgM. Blood tests can look for and detect these antibodiesnot the virus itself. IgG appears soon after infection and stays in the blood for life. IgM is actually the first antibody that appears after infection, but it may disappear thereafter.

    IgM tests are not recommended because of three serious problems:

    The accurate herpes blood tests detect IgG antibodies. Unlike IgM, IgG antibodies can be accurately broken down to either HSV-1 or HSV-2. The challenge here is that the time it takes for IgG antibodies to reach detectable levels can vary from person to person. For one person, it could take just a few weeks, while it could take a few months for another. So even with the accurate tests, a person could receive a false negative if the test is taken too soon after contracting the virus.

    For the most accurate test result, it is recommended to wait 12 16 weeks from the last possible date of exposure before getting an accurate, type-specific blood test in order to allow enough time for antibodies to reach detectable levels.

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    When Should You Consider Getting Tested

    Herpes is a sneaky, deceitful virus. It hides deep inside your nerve cells for unpredictable periods of time before triggering visible symptoms. In many cases, it infects the body and spreads to others without any obvious signs at all. As many as 90 percent of people infected with herpes are unaware they have the virus because theyve never experienced an outbreak.

    People who dont have symptoms are more likely to transmit the herpes virus through a phenomenon known as asymptomatic shedding. This occurs when the virus sheds from the skin and spreads to others, even when no sores are present. Asymptomatic shedding is undetectable as there are no signs or symptoms, but it’s real.

    According to research, at least 70% of infected people experience asymptomatic shedding of HSV-1 at least once a month. Many may even shed the herpes virus without symptoms more than six times per month.

    Given that the herpes virus doesnt always trigger outbreaks and symptoms, testing is an important way to monitor your health. The CDC recommends testing if you are experiencing symptoms that could be related to herpes or if you recently had sex with a new partner who has genital herpes.

    Remember, its possible that early herpes symptoms may not seem related to herpes. An initial herpes outbreak causes flu-like symptoms, including fatigue, fever and chills. These symptoms may be paired with pain, itching and redness around the affected area.

    Best Convenient Herpes Test: Mylab Box

    HELP!!! Is this herpes? I have two different diagnoses and I don

    People can order at-home herpes tests from MyLAB Box. These kits contain instructions, a specimen bag, and a prepaid return envelope. Users may find this test convenient because of its quick turnaround for results and the option to book a free consultation and get treatment.

    Collection method
    doctor may prescribe treatment if test results are positive
    Con only tests for HSV-2

    Once a person receives their collection kit, they can collect their sample using the instructions. They can then use the prepaid envelope to send it to the laboratory.

    People should receive their results within 25 days. If the test is positive, they can book a free consultation with a doctor to discuss their results and treatment options. The doctor may then prescribe treatment.

    This at-home test only works for people who wish to test for genital herpes. The company does not offer test kits for oral herpes.

    The kit costs $89 as a stand-alone test, but the company also markets other kits that test for different infections. For example, if a person also wishes to test for other STIs, they can purchase the Total Box 14 Panel option or the Uber Box 8 Panel option.

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    Is There A Cure For Herpes Simplex

    There is no cure for herpes simplex. Once you have the virus, its a lifelong infection.

    What is the outlook for people with herpes simplex?

    For many people, the first herpes outbreak is the most severe. Many outbreaks are less frequent and milder after the first year of infection. Some people may have only one outbreak and never have another again.

    Herpes infection doesnt usually pose a serious health risk. The risk of a health complication due to herpes is higher in infants and if you have HIV/AIDS, cancer or an organ transplant.

    Herpes Testing : What Are Your Options

    Medically reviewed by Michele Emery, DNP

    Are you worried you might have been exposed to the herpes virus?

    First: dont panic. The HSV viruses are a lot more common than you may think, and are very manageable in most cases.

    Second: if you think youve been exposed to the herpes virus, testing is going to be your first plan of action.

    Take a couple deep breaths and when youre ready, read on.

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    How Is Genital Herpes Diagnosed

    If you have a herpes sore, your dermatologist can often diagnose you by looking at the sore and taking a swab from the sore. A lab test can tell whether the sore contains the herpes simplex virus , which is what causes genital herpes.

    If you dont have a sore or any symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control doesnt recommend testing for most people. You can learn whether you should be tested if you dont have symptoms at:

    How To Know If You Have Herpes

    Understanding Herpes Testing

    This article was medically reviewed by Lacy Windham, MD. Dr. Windham is a board certified Obstetrician & Gynecologist in Tennessee. She attended medical school at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis and completed her residency at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in 2010, where she was awarded the Most Outstanding Resident in Maternal Fetal Medicine, Most Outstanding Resident in Oncology, and Most Outstanding Resident Overall.There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 842,512 times.

    Research shows that around 1 out of every 6 people has some form of herpes.XTrustworthy SourceCenters for Disease Control and PreventionMain public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human ServicesGo to source The herpes simplex viruses are the viruses responsible for oral and genital herpes infections, and they can cause sores, itching, painful urination, and vaginal discharge. Although doctors can treat symptoms, ease pain, and reduce the possibility of spreading the virus, herpes cannot be cured. Studies show that you can find out if you have herpes by examining high risk behaviors, recognizing the symptoms, and getting tested by a medical professional.XTrustworthy SourceFamilyDoctor.orgFamily-focused medical advice site run by the American Academy of Family DoctorsGo to source

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    Useful Methods Include Testing An Actual Lesion

    Keep in mind that theres no such thing as safe sex, only safer sex, which means using protection and being open and honest with your partner. It can definitely happen, Friedman says of the chances of transmitting the virus to a partner without a visible outbreak. Its called asymptotic shedding there are studies showing that the rates of transmission of HSV-2 are the same for symptomatic and asymptomatic. 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.

    Like Hutcherson, Friedman also doesnt recommend blood tests for herpes in the absence of symptoms. The tests that are useful involve sampling the actual blister or cold sore, he says, which can involve smearing scrapes of skin cells from the sore onto a slide, targeting the infected cells. As with some of the blood tests, though, this sampling test still wont tell you what type of herpes virus is present. A viral culture, on the other hand, will tell you which virus you have, though it takes some time to come back. Direct fluorescent antibody is by far the best, Friedman says, as you can get a result in a matter of hours which can be as useful as a culture. Not all hospitals have access to this method, however.

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