Why The Test Is Performed
The test is done to find out whether a person has ever been infected with oral or genital herpes. It looks for antibodies to herpes simplex virus 1 and herpes simplex virus 2 . An antibody is a substance made by the bodys immune system when it detects harmful substances such as the herpes virus. This test does not detect the virus itself.
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
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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Herpes Pcr Tests Very Accurate
A PCR test can be done on cells or fluid from an active sore and is more sensitive than typical lab culture tests. PCR finds the genetic material of the HSV virus and can tell the difference between HSV-1 and HSV-2. Although this test may be more expensive than lab cultures, it is definitely more accurate and less likely to result in a false negative or false positive. However, you still need to get tested while you are having an active outbreak, or else the HSV cells may no longer be present on the surface of your skin.
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How Much Do At
Most insurance companies do not cover herpes testing, either at-home or in-person. At-home tests cost an average of around $120 to $130, although some companies offer a discount for people who subscribe to regular testing. If your insurance does cover herpes testing, consider using one of the companies that bill insurance. This may be able to reduce your cost significantly. In some instances, you may be able to get reimbursed by your insurance company for testing.
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So Why Is This Test Not Included Doesnt The Medical Community Care About Preventing Transmission
Although it may not feel this way, the doctors and researchers who established these guidelines have been quite thoughtful about them. If you read the documents, you can see that the researchers sensitively consider their decision from many different angles. In fact, you can learn a ton about the research on genital herpes and transmission where they discuss the reasoning for their decision.
The biggest contributing factor to the guidelines is that 1) standard herpes blood tests are not totally reliable and 2) receiving a herpes diagnosis can have a significant impact on mental health while being virtually non-threatening to your physical health.
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.
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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.
Get Tested For Genital Herpes
Testing for genital herpes is easily done by a healthcare provider through swabs, blood testing, and/or visual diagnosis. Ã¢
Healthcare providers may even be able to visually diagnose the lesions as herpes, using lab tests to confirm the diagnosis.
The most common testing method in Canada is swabbing the surface of the lesion and sending it to a lab for testing. These swab tests can determine whether HSV-1 or HSV-2 caused the genital herpes infection. This kind of testing is usually not repeated once positive.
Blood tests can also determine if someone has an HSV infection and which type of the virus. However, blood testing is limited because it does not reveal if an infection is active, the infection location on the body, or how and when it was contracted.
Getting regular STI tests is an essential way to prevent infection or reinfection of sexual partners.Ã¢
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How Common Is Genital Herpes
Genital herpes infection is common in the United States. CDC estimated that there were 572,000 new genital herpes infections in the United States in a single year.1 Nationwide, 11.9 % of persons aged 14 to 49 years have HSV-2 infection .2 However, the prevalence of genital herpes infection is higher than that because an increasing number of genital herpes infections are caused by HSV-1. 3 Oral HSV-1 infection is typically acquired in childhood because the prevalence of oral HSV-1 infection has declined in recent decades, people may have become more susceptible to contracting a genital herpes infection from HSV-1. 4
HSV-2 infection is more common among women than among men the percentages of those infected during 2015-2016 were 15.9% versus 8.2% respectively, among 14 to 49 year olds. 2 This is possibly because genital infection is more easily transmitted from men to women than from women to men during penile-vaginal sex. 5 HSV-2 infection is more common among non-Hispanic blacks than among non-Hispanic whites . 2 A previous analysis found that these disparities, exist even among persons with similar numbers of lifetime sexual partners. Most infected persons may be unaware of their infection in the United States, an estimated 87.4% of 14 to 49 year olds infected with HSV-2 have never received a clinical diagnosis. 6
The age-adjusted percentage of persons in the United States infected with HSV-2 decreased from 18.0% in 19992000 to 12.1% in 2015-2016. 2
Current Methods For Testing Are Not That Great
As Loanzon mentioned, the testing we have for asymptomatic herpes is not great. Sutton says that testing for herpes regularly would cause undue stress on people and their relationships, when they may not even have the virus in the first place.
Kecia Gaither, M.D., M.P.H., FACOG, who is board-certified in OB-GYN and maternal fetal medicine and director of perinatal services at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln, agrees, explaining, Blood tests have a high rate of inaccuracy, high false positive rates. This can cause unnecessary anxiety and disrupt relationships.
Additionally, the test for the non-presenting herpes virus can tell you very little about the herpes you might actually have. Serology, or blood testing, detects antibodies to the herpes virus. Unfortunately, it does not detect if the herpes virus present is HSV-1 or HSV-2 its location which is often what patients would like to know, explains Loanzon.
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Heres Why Doctors Dont Usually Test For Herpes
Its basically a SELF mantra at this point: Getting tested for sexually transmitted infections is hella important. Is it the most delightful way to spend your time? No. Is it a vital part of looking after your health, sexual and otherwise? Absolutely.
When you go in for routine STI testing, you might realize that your doctor doesnt test you for herpes. Whats that about? As it turns out, testing for herpes isnt as straightforward as testing for something like chlamydia or gonorrhea. Here, doctors explain why herpes isnt usually included on STI panels.
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.
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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.
Should You Take A Herpes Test If You Have No Symptoms Of This Sti Here’s What Experts Advise
If you think you have genital herpes because you have a sore on or near your genitals, a doctor or nurse can test the sore and diagnose you. But how do you test for herpes if you have no symptoms and are simply worried you’ve been exposed to the virus? There is a blood test available, but experts disagree about whether it’s worth the trouble. Here are a few arguments for not bothering with the herpes test.
What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
- What is the best treatment for me?
- What happens if I dont treat a cold sore?
- What are the side effects of antiviral medications?
- How can I reduce the risk of future outbreaks?
- Whats the best way to prevent getting another STI?
- How can I protect my partner from getting genital herpes?
- Should I lookout for signs of complications?
Should I Get Tested For Herpes
The CDC does not recommend herpes testing for individuals that are not showing signs or symptoms of a herpes infection. We align our testing views with the recommendations of the CDC, so, we do not recommend herpes testing for individuals that are not showing signs or symptoms of a herpes infection. We offer a herpes blood test that can detect herpes antibodies in your blood, an indicator that you have come into contact with the virus, and distinguishes between simplex 1 and simplex 2 of the virus. However, it is important to consider the following factors when thinking about herpes testing with us:
If you have further questions about herpes, please visit the CDCs fact page about herpes by clicking here.
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How Long Do Herpes Test Results Take
As soon as you have collected the fluid sample and sent it to the lab, it can take just 2 to 3 days after the sample has reached the lab for the results to be ready. One of the Superdrug Online doctors will contact you through the patient account created online. This is an encrypted channel that protects your privacy.
If there is a need for more information, the doctor may call you. You will never be contacted through email or text with your results.
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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.
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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.
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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Testing For Herpes On A Widespread Scale Probably Wouldnt Curb The Spread
Nearly every medical health expert I spoke to agreed that testing for herpes likely wouldnt do much to help curb the spread of the virus. Given the complex nature of the virus , I dont know if testing widely would curb the spread, says Loanzon.
The only accurate test for herpes is a culture of an active sore or ulcer. So, if you dont have active symptoms, you shouldnt get tested. Herpes is spread by skin-to-skin contact. Its highly contagious and simply not that big of a deal. Herpes-positive advocates like Loanzon are doing their best to help give people the information they need to protect themselves, but also to understand how common this virus really is. Practice safe sex, have frank disclosures with your partner before engaging in sexual activity, and see a health care provider for further questions or concerns. If you do receive a positive herpes diagnosis, please know that you are not alone and there are many people who are thriving, love and are loved, and living life with the virus successfully without missing anything in life, she says.
Lets end the stigma. Lets fight for comprehensive sex education for all and stop scaring people with pictures of herpes sores. Stigma is tiredinformation is wired.
Herpes Is Very Commonand Not Easy To Spread
The CDC estimates that between 2015 and 2016 nearly 50 percent of the population had HSV-1, which is typically associated with cold sores but can cause genital herpes through oral sex, and about 12 percent of the population had HSV-2, which is usually genital herpes. But if youve never had any herpes symptoms, youre highly unlikely to spread the disease since its most likely to spread during an outbreak. And even when people know they have herpes, studies show that the knowledge doesn’t necessarily change their behavior. Meaning, if they were going to have unprotected sex anyway, knowing they have herpes won’t stop them.
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