Posted on: 17 September 2015Share
Although there's commonly a negative stigma associated with herpes, herpes is actually much more widespread than most people believe. It affects more than one out of six people between the ages of 14 and 49 in the U.S. If you believe that you have symptoms of herpes, it's important to get tested right away, so that you can begin treating the STD immediately. With the right treatment, herpes is a manageable disease. This article will take a look at the 3 most common tests used for diagnosing herpes.
A Blood Test to Check for Antibodies
If you have herpes, your immune system will begin producing antibodies to fight off the infection. In particular, the blood test for herpes will look for IgG antibodies, which are proteins that bind to the herpes virus. IgG can differentiate between whether the herpes virus found in the body is from oral herpes, which produces cold sores, or is from genital herpes.
A blood test looking for antibodies is perhaps one of the cheapest and quickest methods used for testing. Unfortunately, there is a disadvantage to using a blood test. For one, it takes some time for IgG antibodies to build up in the blood to detectable levels. This means that it is possible for a blood test to show a false negative. It is recommended for the blood test to be taken approximately 12 to 16 weeks after the last possible date of exposure for accuracy. You do not necessarily have to be having an outbreak for the herpes to be detected using this test.
A Cell Culture to Look for Stained Herpes Virus
If you are experiencing an outbreak, one of the fastest and easiest tests to perform is to obtain a cell culture of the lesions. A physician will scrape the sore to collect fluids and cells of the skin surrounding the lesion. The skin sample is then sent to a laboratory where a technician will allow it to grow for 16 hours to 7 days. The sample is then stained to look for the presence of the herpes virus.
This test can only tell you whether or not the outbreak you are experiencing is a result of the herpes virus. If it comes back negative, the physician can only deduce from the results that the lesions or outbreaks are not caused by the herpes virus; however, this does not necessarily mean that you are not infected with the virus. It may mean that the virus is dormant. You should experience minimal discomfort from the cell culture test. At most, you'll experience some bleeding at the site where the sample was removed, along with slight pain and discomfort.
A PCR Blood Test to Look for the Dormant Virus
If you believe you may be infected by the herpes virus have yet to show symptoms, then your physician will normally order a PCR blood test. A PCR blood test is a little bit more complex than simply looking for antibodies. Basically, it entails looking for pieces of the virus' DNA within your bloodstream. The PCR test will magnify small quantities of viral DNA. There's a very small chance that the virus will be missed or undetected. As a result, this test is incredibly accurate.
The PCR blood test is perhaps the most accurate out of all of the tests because it can detect the herpes virus even if you do not have any symptoms at all.
If you have symptoms that appear to be from the herpes virus, speak to a physician and visit a clinic like Safer STD Testing immediately and get tested for STDs. Depending on the physician and the symptoms that you are experiencing, different types of tests may be recommended. It's a good idea to get tested also if a past lover informs you that they may have contracted herpes while you two were together. By getting diagnosed sooner, you can start treatments if they are necessary. This will help make living with herpes much easier to manage.