How To Read Your Results
Your HSV test results will likely be reported as negative or positive :
- Negative. The herpes virus was not found. However, you may still have an HSV infection if your results were negative. It may mean the sample didnt have enough virus to be detected. If you still have symptoms of herpes, you may need to order another test.
- Positive. HSV was found in your sample. It may mean you have an active infection or contracted the virus in the past .
If your test results are positive for HSV, talk with a doctor about your next steps.
How Long Does It Take For Symptoms Of Herpes To Appear
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.
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.
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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.
Herpes Std Testing Cost With Insurance
Many health insurance policies in the U.S. do not cover the herpes screening antibody test cost. They might cover only the cost of the viral culture. However, this coverage also depends on your insurance plan.
Our herpes STD testing providers offer herpes screening blood tests and do not accept any health insurance. But, if the insurance company accepts to reimburse the cost, they can provide you with an itemized receipt containing all the details like the name and code of the test, and CPT code which is necessary for insurance reimbursement purposes.
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Accuracy By Test Type
Two blood tests are used to screen for herpes. To ensure that an initial positive result is correct, a second test using a different method of detection is used to confirm the results.
The first test is the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay . An ELISA looks for immune proteins, called antibodies, that are produced by the immune system in response to the HSV. HSV antibodies are present even when there are no symptoms.
If the ELISA result is positive, your healthcare provider may administer a Western blot assay. This second test looks for proteins on the surface of the virus, called antigens, which serve as the virus’ “ID tag.” HSV antibodies produced in response to these antigens help the immune system target its attack.
According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the accuracy of the two blood used to diagnose herpes breaks down as follows:
|Over 99%||Over 99%|
Due to its high level of sensitivity and specificity, the Western blot is considered the gold standard of herpes blood testing.
With that said, the accuracy of the tests can be affected by the timing of the tests. For an ELISA to return an accurate result, the immune system needs to produce enough antibodies to reach detectable levels.
Testing too early during the so-called window period can end up causing a false-negative result .
How Test Accuracy Is Measure
The accuracy of all medical tests, including herpes tests, is measured based on two values: sensitivity and specificity.
Sensitivityis how often a test correctly identifies someone with a disease. A test that is 90% sensitive will correctly identify 90 people out of 100 who have the disease. Ten people will have a false-negative result.
Specificity, on the other hand, refers to a test’s ability to correctly identify someone who doesn’t have the disease. If a test is 90% specific, that means that 90 people out of 100 will be correctly diagnosed as not having a disease and that 10 people will have a false-positive result.
The higher the sensitivity and specificity, the lower the chances of a false result.
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Herpes Blood Test Results Explained
A herpes blood test is not considered to be a general screening test because false positive results are a possibility. Genital herpes is a fairly common sexually transmitted disease, so if youre concerned about an infection of the HSV-1 or HSV2 virus, it is important to discuss your sexual history with your doctor to determine if this blood test is right for you.
There are a lot of questions about the herpes blood test, so this guide is intended to help everyone understand why the recommendations for testing are designed as they are today.
What Is Herpes Swab Test
- Herpes viruses are a large group of viruses, many of which cause human illnesses
- Herpes simplex 1 virus primarily infects the oral cavity and mouth, causing blisters and cold sores. HSV-1 is mainly spread through the saliva
- Herpes virus causes symptoms within 3-5 days some symptoms may persist for 2-3 weeks. They may be so mild, so as to go unnoticed
- After this time, the virus enters a period of dormancy, called the latent phase. The virus may emerge during times of immunosuppression, such as illness and stress
- There are no known cures for herpes virus infections. However, antiviral drugs are sometimes used to shorten the active phase, or the period of time during which the virus sheds. This means the time of infection during which the herpes virus is actively multiplying in the body and is released into various body fluids. During the active shedding period, the virus may be transmitted or spread from one person to another
- After infection by herpes virus, the immune system creates antibodies specific to it. Antibodies are proteins that recognize foreign objects, such as herpes, and help rid them from the body. The presence of antibodies against herpes virus in the bloodstream is indicative of a prior exposure to herpes virus. This is diagnostic of a current or past infection
The Herpes Test detects the presence of herpes virus in a sample of body fluid, using one of several methods. These include:
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How Is The Test Used
Herpes testing may be used a few different ways:
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend screening for herpes in the general population, but it may be helpful in some cases, such as:
- If you have signs and symptoms, such as genital sores that may be related to herpes
- If you have or had a sex partner with genital herpes
- If you would like to have a complete exam for sexually transmitted diseases , especially if you have multiple sex partners if this is the case, you should discuss STD testing with your healthcare practitioner.
Herpes Testing: Types Accuracy Timing And Necessity
In this section, weâll give you information about herpes testing.
Testing is what ultimately establishes or rule out a diagnosis of herpes. All the other weâve talked aboutâwhat you feel, what you see, and your odds of getting itâhelp us with the diagnosis, but theyâve canât establish it or confirm it.
This section will summarize the different types of herpes tests, their accuracy, how theyâre interpreted, and when theyâre necessary. Tables with important statistics will be followed by FAQ answered by âDr. F,â an STD expert.
So, if you want to know all about herpes testing, this chapter is for you!
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Can Herpes Cause Hiv
Just because HIV and Herpes Simplex Virus have viruses at the end of their name it doesnt imply that these STDs can open the doors to one another. Also, these are completely different from HPV . All three types are completely different from one another. When you have Herpes and get engaged sexually with HIV infected, then and only then do you have a chance of acquiring HIV.
Is There Anything Else I Need To Know About An Hsv Test
The best way to prevent genital herpes or another STD is to not have sex. If you are sexually active, you can reduce your risk of infection by
- Being in a long-term relationship with one partner who has tested negative for STDs
- Using condoms correctly every time you have sex
If you’ve been diagnosed with genital herpes, condom use can reduce your risk of spreading the infection to others.
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Why Is Testing Recommended Only In These Areas
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.
Nonetheless Asymptomatic Individuals Can Still Pass Herpes On And You Could Be One Of Them Even If You Obtain Regular Std Testing
Many doctors also don’t inform patients that the test is not included, so when people do have symptoms and receive a diagnosis, there can be feelings of confusion and worry about whether a partner was dishonest or cheated, when their partner simply may not have known about the infection. In fact, by the time some people are diagnosed, it can be very difficult to determine how long they’ve had the infection. This means they may not have contracted it from their current partner.
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Cost And Health Insurance
Depending on where you live and the lab you use, your HSV IgG blood test can cost between $35 and $80. Public clinics tend to be cheaper.
Genital HSV is considered an STI. But don’t assume that a free STI clinic will have the test or provide it free of charge. Some may only offer free testing for:
- Select STI screening tests
Search for free or low-cost STI clinics in your area by using the GetTested locator offered by the CDC.
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 Should I Talk With A Doctor
If you have a primary care doctor who you regularly visit, you can share your results with them to provide better insight into your next steps.
If you dont have a primary care doctor, you can consult with a physician or nurse from the testing site about treatment options.
If youve been treating your symptoms with medication and are still in pain or discomfort, reach out to a healthcare professional.
What Do The Results Mean
Your HSV test results will be given as negative, also called normal, or positive, also called abnormal.
Negative/Normal. The herpes virus was not found. You may still have an HSV infection if your results were normal. It may mean the sample didn’t have enough of the virus to be detected. If you still have symptoms of herpes, you may need to get tested again.
Positive/Abnormal. HSV was found in your sample. It may mean you have an active infection , or were infected in the past .
If you tested positive for HSV, talk to your health care provider. While there is no cure for herpes, it hardly ever causes serious health problems. Some people may only have one outbreak of sores their whole lives, while others break out more often. If you want to reduce the severity and number of your outbreaks, your provider may prescribe a medicine that can help.
Learn more about laboratory tests, reference ranges, and understanding results.
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Are There Any Risks To The Test
There is no known risk to having a swab test.
There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.
If you had a lumbar puncture, you may have pain or tenderness in your back where the needle was inserted. You may also get a headache after the procedure.
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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Are Test Results Accurate
Tests that identify evidence of HSV infections are routine and commonly used medical tests. The ability of a test to accurately diagnose or rule out HSV infection depends on the test used for analysis and the stage of a patients infection.
The Tzanck smear and viral culture are less able to accurately identify patients who have an HSV infection than other tests. PCR testing and antibody testing are more sensitive, which means that they miss fewer cases of infection.
Blood tests that detect antibodies to HSV can distinguish between HSV-1 and HSV-2 but not the site of infection. This means that blood tests cannot tell whether a patient has a genital or oral herpes infection.
Although these tests are valuable for identifying HSV infection, no test is perfect. When learning of test results, patients should talk to their doctor about the type of test conducted, the reliability of test results, and if additional tests are necessary to confirm or rule out a diagnosis.