What Is The Difference Between Type
The technology behind the type-specific test is relatively new. The gold standard of type-specific blood tests is known as the Western Blot Serology.
A number of similar tests are produced for research purposes and commercial products are gradually becoming more available. These tests detect antibodies that differ between HSV-1 and HSV-2. It is now recommended that clinicians avoid serum tests other than type-specific tests.
Why Should I Get Tested
Genital herpes does not often show signs or symptoms until you have an outbreak. If you have had unprotected sex with someone who has genital herpes, then you may have caught it too. It is important to get tested so that you do not pass it on to someone else.
It is very important to get tested if you are a pregnant woman and have a partner with genital herpes. This is because your baby could also become infected if you get genital herpes too. Herpes infections in babies can be life-threatening.
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.
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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.
If A Pregnant Woman Gets Genital Herpes Is There A Chance Her Baby Can Get Infected
Yes. Even though adults with genital herpes may not have any symptoms, herpes infections in babies can be life-threatening. Women who get genital herpes during late pregnancy have a very high risk for having a baby with herpes infection, and these women may not even know they are infected. Women who get herpes during early pregnancy, or who are infected before they get pregnant can also spread herpes to their babies. Most babies with herpes get infected as they come into contact with the herpes virus while passing through the birth canal, but infection can also occur before birth or in the weeks after birth.
If you are pregnant and think that you or your partner may have genital herpes, tell your doctor. Your doctor can order testing and can talk to you about ways to lower your babys risk for infection.
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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 I Get Tested For Herpes
If you think you have been exposed to herpes, then you should get tested 12 days after exposure. Herpes has an incubation period of 2 to 12 days, so may not show up on a test before then. Otherwise, you should get tested for herpes when you have visible symptoms, such as blisters, as this can confirm whether your symptoms are the result of a herpes infection.
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If You Get A Positive Result Don’t Panic It Really Doesn’t Mean Much
All of this is to say that unless you have symptoms consistent with the herpes virus, why put yourself through the emotional turmoil of getting a blood test that may or may not give you legit results? As Hutcherson notes, if you do get a blood test and it comes back positive but you’re asymptomatic, what does that mean for you if you have nothing to treat? For many, due to the high rate of stigma still surrounding herpes, it can mean feelings of self-contempt, humiliation, and distress, all of which could be avoided if you aren’t experiencing any symptoms.
To recap, while there are some tests for herpes that can prove correct, none are 100 percent perfect, and blood tests are particularly problematic since they can produce false positives and negatives. We also know that the majority of the population has some form of herpes, so IMO it’s a mystery as to why we’re still making a big deal out of it. No one likes blisters or sores, but neither does anyone love having acne, a widespread condition without the same level of attached shame.
Can I Take The Test At Home
At-home tests are available to test for evidence of an HSV infection. At-home herpes testing typically detects HSV antibodies in a self-collected sample of blood and may require additional follow-up if preliminary results are positive. At-home herpes tests can be obtained online or at a local pharmacy.
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Genital Herpes Is Common Why Doesnt Cdc Recommend Testing Everyone For This Std
CDC does not recommend herpes testing for people without symptoms. This is because diagnosing genital herpes in someone without symptoms has not shown any change in their sexual behavior nor has it stopped the virus from spreading. Also, false positive test results are possible. Even if you do not have symptoms, you should talk openly and honestly about your sexual history with your doctor to find out if you should be tested for any STDs, including herpes.
Although CDC does not recommend that everyone get tested for herpes, herpes testing may be useful in some situations. Herpes blood tests might be useful
- If you have genital symptoms that could be related to herpes,
- If you have a sex partner with genital herpes, or
- If you want a complete STD exam, especially if you have multiple sex partners.
Please note that while a herpes blood test can help determine if you have herpes infection, it will not be able to tell you who gave you the infection.
Which Symptoms Mean I Should Get Checked
Get tested for herpes if you have:
- an outbreak of blisters, sores or lesions around the genital area
- pain around the genital area
- pain or discomfort when urinating
As soon as you begin to see blisters around your genitals, you can try home testing or visit a clinic. Do this before the blisters begin to scab over and heal for the most accurate results. If you have no symptoms or suspect a false negative result, a blood test can be done. This will only show if you have ever been exposed to HSV and if you may have outbreaks in the future.
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Search For Low Cost Or Free Std Testing Locations Belows
If you think you need to be tested for STDs, we can help you find a testing center near you. Public testing is widely available mainly because of the easy-to-access county, state or city resources. However, there may be less privacy, pricing can be income dependent and wait times may be higher.
There are also thousands of private labs in the United States, such as Quest Diagnostics or LabCorp, which you may also be familiar with. The appointments are fast, results usually arrive within 1-2 days and nobody knows why youre visiting so they offer more privacy. These labs have upfront transparent pricing but may end up costing a bit more than the public ones depending on your income.
Use our search and filters below to determine what works best for you.
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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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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.
How Soon Can You Be Tested
The incubation period for herpes is 2 to 12 days, which means that the best time to get tested for the herpes virus if you havent had an initial outbreak is after 12 days. If youre worried that youve been exposed to herpes but have not yet been diagnosed, here are some steps you can take:
- If youre currently sexually active, stop all sexual activity until you can receive a formal diagnosis.
- Reach out to your doctor and schedule an appointment for once the incubation period is up.
- If youre having an outbreak, you dont have to wait to get tested. Its possible to receive a diagnosis based on the lesions.
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What Are The Risks Associated With Herpes
If you have symptoms for Herpes, the use of condoms might not protect your sexual partner from getting the virus from your infected areas that are not covered by the condom. Therefore, it is advised to abstain from sex if you have symptoms.
Neonatal Herpes can occur in rare cases and might lead to lasting neurologic disability or even death of the infant. Pregnant women who get their first viral infection during late pregnancy are at a higher risk of acquiring the disease than those infected prior to pregnancy.
The symptoms and pains associated with recurrence of Herpes might lead to psychological distress, which could negatively affect the quality of life and sexual relationships of infected individuals.
If Herpes is left untreated, there is an increased risk of getting other sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
Signs And Symptoms Of Herpes
Oral herpes is an infection in the mouth, caused by HSV-1 . Symptoms often include cold sores or fever blisters, but you can have oral herpes without any symptoms.
The herpes simplex virus can be dormant until an active outbreak occurs. The initial infection typically has the worst symptoms, ranging from flu-like symptoms and swollen lymph nodes to headaches. Sores may occur in and around the lips and mouth. Recurring infections are usually milder, and may include redness, itching, or swelling. Painful, fluid-filled blisters can occur and are highly contagious. These blisters often turn into sores , which will then scab over and typically heal in a few days.
Symptoms of genital herpes range from none to more severe manifestations . The majority of genital HSV infections are mild, with little to no symptoms following the initial outbreak. For people who do experience symptoms, the usual course begins with genital inflammation, where the skin may itch or burn. Blister-like sores may appear. The sores may open, scab over, and heal.
Other indirect symptoms that can occur during an active herpes virus infection include fever, headaches, muscle aches, and a burning sensation during urination.
If you think you may have a herpes infection, home testing could be a convenient option for you. If youâre wondering how to get tested for herpes at home, thereâs good news: testing for HSV-2 is easy with the Everlywell female STD Test or male STD Test.
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The Bottom Line: Tests For Herpes Are More Worry Than They’re Worth
If you do have symptoms, don’t fret: If you know your status, you’re at an advantage in that you can talk with your doctor and find an antiviral drug that works for you. Medication can curtail the severity of your symptoms, as well as the number of outbreaks you get. Additionally, taking an antiviral daily will greatly reduce your chances of transmitting the virus to someone else. In case you missed it, there’s also a very promising new drug for herpes on the horizon, which researchers say could be the most effective one yet.
Take it straight from the pros and don’t put yourself through the stress of a herpes blood test if you don’t need to. And, whether you have symptoms or not, know that you’re not alone if you are herpes-positive.
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Can Herpes Be Treated
If your symptoms are already cleared, you may not need any medication. You will however need to learn more about how to manage your condition if an outbreak happens in the future.
There are several antiviral medications you can take to manage or prevent outbreaks. Antiviral medication can shorten outbreaks by several days. Some can also suppress the virus, reducing the risk of spread to partners.
Treatment options for herpes are:
You can also apply a pain relief or numbing cream to the affected area. Local anaesthetic creams like Lidocaine can be used for such relief.
Other ways to manage herpes outbreaks are to:
- apply petroleum jelly as a barrier to skin contact
- apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel to help numb and soothe painful sores
- take a cool shower to soothe pain and irritation
- avoid frequent washing and drying of the affected area
- wear loose fitting clothes
- take mild over the counter pain relievers if needed
- drink plenty of water for better skin health
When talking to your doctor, you will be asked to tell any previous partners so they can get tested. Your doctor or nurse may help you tell them anonymously if you prefer.
- HSV 1
- HSV 2
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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: