How to Get Tested for Herpes
Since most people with genital herpes have few, infrequent or even NO symptoms, it can be difficult to know whether or not you have genital herpes. You may have seen pictures of herpes or heard about people who have “really bad” herpes symptoms, such as genital sores, rashes, headaches and fatigue. But severe symptoms are very rare. For the great majority of people with herpes, their symptoms are so mild or infrequent – or not at all – that their herpes is never diagnosed! Don’t assume that just because you don’t see any sores or feel sick - that you don’t have herpes or another STD. You may be very wrong!
And for goodness sake - DO NOT ASSUME that your doctor already tested you for herpes! Most doctors NEVER test their patients for herpes, even when they are testing you for other STD’s. That’s right – most doctors do NOT include a herpes test their patients – UNLESS YOU ASK SPECIFICALLY FOR A HERPES BLOOD TEST.
The best way to diagnose herpes when you are not having symptoms is to request a herpes blood test. Or if you are having an active outbreak – then immediately go to the doctor to get a herpes lab culture AND a herpes blood test. You must SPECIFICALLY REQUEST that your doctor give you a herpes blood test and a herpes lab culture – or else your doctor might just do a visual inspection and may easily misdiagnose herpes as something else – such as jock itch, a yeast infection, or rough sex. When your symptoms go away – usually within a few days to a few weeks, you may not even realize that you just experienced a herpes outbreak.
Unfortunately, most doctors still do NOT include a test for herpes during routine STD testing for their patients. This may be because herpes is so common and they don’t consider herpes to be a serious, life-threatening condition. There is also speculation that some medical plans and insurance providers may discourage doctors from testing for herpes so that they will not have to prescribe potentially expensive drugs to the estimated 25% of their patients who would test positive. So unless you SPECIFICALLY ASK your doctor to give you a blood test for herpes, it is unlikely that you or your friends or partners have ever been tested. So start asking specifically for a herpes blood test. And sometimes your doctor will even push back and tell you that you don’t need a Herpes Blood Test or give you another reason why they don’t want to give you a Herpes Blood Test. This may be because your doctor is not up-to-date and doesn’t know about the newer, very accurate herpes blood tests. Read on for more info.
Herpes Lab Cultures
Many doctors and health care professionals are not up-to-date about herpes diagnosis and will tell you that the only way to accurately diagnose whether or not you have the genital herpes virus is by taking a swab from an active herpes sore or lesion and sending it to the lab for a culture test. However, this only works if the patient’s sore is fairly new or else the virus may no longer be active on the skin. If you get a Herpes Lab Culture and it comes out negative, you may still have genital herpes. Because most herpes outbreaks are short and mild, and because most people have few, mild or even NO outbreaks, we highly recommend taking a herpes blood test when no active sores or lesions are present, and in ADDITION to a Herpes Lab Culture when there is a sore present.
Herpes Blood Tests
Many out-of-date doctors will tell you that there are no reliable blood tests for herpes that can accurately distinguish between HSV-1 and HSV-2. These doctors *used to* be right. And some of the old, inaccurate blood tests are still out there. But medicine has made great strides, and since 1999, there are several NEW IgG blood tests now available that DO very accurately distinguish between HSV-1 and HSV-2 and are 97-100% ACCURATE, if taken no earlier than 12-16 weeks after your possible exposure to the virus.
Since some doctors and clinics are still using the older, inaccurate blood tests. Always make sure to find out the name of the company and test that your doctor or lab is ordering for herpes blood tests, and make sure it is one of the tests on the “good” list and not one of the tests on the “bad” list.
Click here to see the list of recommended, highly accurate Herpes Blood Tests – Herpes Blood Test Guide from the American Association of Social Health (ASHA.org). Give a copy to your doctor to make sure they are in the know!
Some of the Good Herpes Blood Tests include:
- HerpeSelect 1&2 Differentiation Immunoblot from Focus Diagnostics
- Captia ELISA HSV1 and HSV2 Tests from Trinity Biotech USA
- The Western Blot Test from University of Washington is considered to be the “gold standard” for all herpes blood tests.
- To download the complete list of good herpes blood tests to give to your doctor, go to ASHA HerpesBloodTestGuide.
If your doctor sends you to Quest Diagnostics or LabCorp to get a blood test for herpes, make sure the test they order is from this list:
HerpeSelect HSV-2 ELISA: 3640x
HerpeSelect HSV-1 ELISA: 3636x
HSV-1 and HSV-2 together: 6447x
Western Blot: 34534
Captia HSV-2 ELISA: 163147
Captia HSV-1 ELISA: 164897
Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 together: 164905
Codes may vary by facility; confirm code with lab before ordering.
Old, Innacurate Blood Tests List
- Zeus, HSV-1 and/or HSV-2 ELISA Test System, Raritan, NJ
- Sigma, Herpes 1-IgG, Herpes 2-IgG, St Louis, MO
- Wampole Labs, HSV-1 IgG ELISA, HSV-2 IgG ELISA, Cranbury, NJ
Planned Parenthood Confidential Herpes Testing
Private Confidential Lab Testing
You must WAIT AT LEAST 12-16 WEEKS after you were exposed to herpes, in order to give the virus antibodies enough time to develop in your blood stream. Otherwise the blood tests may not be accurate.