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.
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.
Are There Other Types Of Herpes Viruses Besides Hsv
Yes. There are over 25 viruses in the herpes family and at least 8 types that infect humans. These include herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2 discussed in this article as well as varicella zoster virus , associated with chickenpox and shingles, Epstein Barr virus , which can cause infectious mononucleosis, cytomegalovirus , human herpes virus 6 and human herpes virus 7 , both associated with roseola in young children, and human herpes virus 8 , which has been found in tumors in people with Kaposi’s sarcoma . KS primarily affects people with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS and organ transplant recipients.
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What Happens During A Herpes Test
If you have blisters or sores, your doctor or nurse will gently take a sample of fluid from the sores with a swab and test it.
If you dont have any sores, talk with your doctor or nurse about whether a blood test for herpes makes sense for you. But herpes tests aren’t normally recommended unless you do have symptoms.
The idea of getting tested may seem scary, but try to chill out. STD testing is a regular part of being a responsible adult and taking care of your health. And herpes tests are quick and usually painless.
Best Sti Panel Test For Herpes: Everlywell
Everlywell offers STI test panels for males and females. This test may be most suitable for people who want to test for a wide range of STIs.
Once a person has purchased a test, they must register it on Everlywells website. They then need to post the collected samples with prepaid shipping.
Everlywell states that people can receive their test results within 57 of posting the samples. However, several customer reviews on the companys website say they had to wait up to 2 weeks.
The person receives digital and printable results. If they test positive for any STIs, they can connect with Everlywells network of independent physicians for advice and treatment.
This test costs $149. However, people can subscribe for twice-yearly tests and save money per kit. They can also use their FSA or HSA to pay for this test.
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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 A Herpes Test
Herpes simplex genital and oral infections are caused by the herpes simplex virus . HSV is disseminated via close contact with an infected person who is actively shedding the virus, most commonly via skin to skin contact or sexual contact. Patients who do not exhibit symptoms of HSV are nevertheless capable of actively shedding the virus and infecting others.
Laboratory tests are used to diagnose HSV and to establish the virus type responsible for an infection. A blood sample or a sample of fluid from a sore may be required for diagnostic testing. A lumbar puncture is less frequently used to identify infections in the brain or spinal cord.
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Quick Answers For Clinicians
Virologic and serologic testing methods are available to confirm herpes simplex virus infection. Direct detection of the virus by polymerase chain reaction or viral culture is recommended for neonates and patients who have an active infection with lesions, to test for disseminated bloodborne infection in immunocompromised patients, and for cerebrospinal fluid testing. Serologic testing for immunoglobulin G can be used to determine if a person has ever been exposed to HSV but cannot determine exactly when the exposure occurred or the site of infection. Type-specific serologic testing for HSV-1- and HSV-2-specific glycoproteins can determine the subtype of the virus, which provides useful information about prognosis and informs treatment and counseling.
Genital herpes is most often caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 , but HSV-1-associated cases are increasing. Recurrence and subclinical viral shedding occur more frequently in cases caused by HSV-2 than in cases caused by HSV-1, which may impact treatment and counseling decisions. Therefore, subtyping HSV using polymerase chain reaction or serology testing can guide treatment decisions and patient counseling. Subtyping may also provide epidemiologic information about transmission of the virus.
Can I Still Have Sex If I Have Herpes
If you have herpes, you should talk to your sex partner about their risk. 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 health, sex life, and relationships. While herpes is not curable, it is important to know that it is manageable with medicine. Daily suppressive therapy can lower your risk of spreading the virus to others. Talk to a healthcare provider about your concerns and treatment options.
A genital herpes diagnosis may affect how you will feel about current or future sexual relationships. Knowing how to talk to sexual partners about STDs is important.
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How Do Healthcare Providers Test For Herpes
How are you tested for herpes at a clinic or healthcare providerâs office? Healthcare providers will examine the location and severity of any active blisters or sores around the mouth or genital area. They may take a tissue sample of the sores to send to a laboratory for examination. A blood sample will be needed if an antibody test is used to check whether you have been infected with the herpes virus.
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.
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Does My Healthcare Provider Include A Blood Test For Genital Herpes When They Test Me For Everything
Herpes blood tests may or may not be part of the tests your healthcare provider gives you. They may choose tests based on several factors .
They will also evaluate you for signs or symptoms of herpes to choose which tests to use. This is why its important to talk openly and honestly with your provider during your visit. Ask them which infections they are and are not testing you for and why.
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?
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The Accuracy Of Various Herpes Tests
This table summarizes the overall accuracy of different herpes tests. Please especially pay attention to the most common test, the IgG testÃ¢and most importantly to its false positive and false negative rates.
The table has three columns:
- Test accuracy: how accurate is the test in detecting the herpes virus
- False positive: the test detects the presence of herpes, but the person doesnÃ¢t actually have it
- False negative: the test doesnÃ¢t detect the presence of herpes, but the person does have it
Please note: the numbers in the table are averages and may vary from case to case based on factors such as when the test is performed , the testing technique, and the herpes viral load.
|Commercially available IgG test: 94%Washington University test: > 99%||Commercially available IgG test: up to 19%Washington University test*: 0%||Commercially available IgG test: up to 38%Washington University test*: 0%|
* The Washington University test is considered the Ã¢gold standardÃ¢ blood test. The false-negative and false-positive rates for the commercially available IgG test are based on a comparison to the Western blot results of the Washington University test.
Syphilis And Gonorrhea Rates Have Risen Sharply In Us Cdc Says
When tests fall between 1.1 and 3.5, more testing is necessary, said Johnston. This recommendation is also noted in the 2015 CDC Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines. But some patients will never be referred for a second test.
I think most clinicians are unaware and perhaps labs dont have this available and/or it is not straightforward to order, Johnston said of second-step tests.
But while her facilitys Western blot is considered highly accurate, it is expensive and cumbersome to perform. Each test costs over $200 and the University of Washington is the only lab that provides it.
Other confirmatory tests also exist, for instance Biokits HSV-2 Rapid Test and Quests own HSV-2 IgG Inhibition assay. The latter, which adds only $4 to the price of the HerpeSelect test, performed well in a study conducted over a decade ago. Rick Pesano, the medical director for infectious disease at Quest, believes that with more awareness, the test could stand in for the Western blot. But the test was not mentioned in the USPSTF guidelines because it still has not been evaluated in asymptomatic individuals, according to Cindy Feltner, associate director of the RTI-UNC Evidence-based Practice Center, who helped prepare the science review for USPSTF.
We need better diagnostic testing. That is where we are stuck at this point, said Johnston. We dont have a good test thats inexpensive, high throughput, and reliable.
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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.
There Are Two Common Blood Tests Used To Identify Herpes And They’re Often Misleading
“I 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,” Friedman says. “She burst into tears when I explained the significance or lack thereof with this test, which is very misleading.” 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 that’s 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 you’ve been exposed to oral herpes , results of the IgM test could lead you to believe you’re positive for genital herpes, when in fact you simply have antibodies against HSV-1.
IgG tests, on the other hand, are more accurate, but aren’t 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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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.
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.
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What Other Tests Are Ordered Along With Herpes Simplex Virus Test
Along with testing for antibodies against herpes infection, culture test is also ordered when a person has blisters on the genitals. HSV DNA testing is ordered when the patient may show signs and symptoms of encephalitis. Tests for screening for other STDs, especially HIV testing, is recommended as HSV infection can increase the risk of being infected with other sexually transmitted diseases .
HSV test requires no special preparation. The results are generally obtained within a day or two. Cultures generally take longer and reports are available within two or more days. The test is often ordered when a person is being screened for a previous exposure, has a history of STD, or is at a risk of infection.
Lab Test Report Reading
How Is Genital Herpes Spread
- Saliva from a partner with an oral herpes infection
- Genital fluids from a partner with a genital herpes infection
- Skin in the oral area of a partner with oral herpes or
- Skin in the genital area of a partner with genital herpes.
You also can get genital herpes from a sex partner who does not have a visible sore or is unaware of their infection. It is also possible to get genital herpes if you receive oral sex from a partner with oral herpes.
You will not get herpes from toilet seats, bedding, or swimming pools. You also will not get it from touching objects, such as silverware, soap, or towels.
If you have more questions about herpes, consider discussing your concerns with a healthcare provider.
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