The World Health Organization estimates that two-thirds of the world’s population (approximately 3.7 billion people) are infected with herpes. It means that most people you know – including yourself – probably have it! Even if you have never had a cold sore before, you could still be infected with HSV. In fact, most people carrying herpes are not even aware they have the infection.
So why do you need to consider herpes testing if you have no outbreaks? You may not know it, but herpes – if left untreated – may lead to serious health problems, such as Alzheimer’s, HIV and meningitis. Moreover, if a person has herpes, he or she can transmit it to other people even when there are no symptoms present (this is called asymptomatic shedding). There is also a high risk of women passing the virus to their babies during labor and delivery. However, if necessary precautions are taken, it is possible to avoid all of these things. And that is why it is so crucial for everyone to get tested for herpes as early as possible.
There are several herpes testing options, and it is important for you to choose the right one.
DNA Herpes Testing
When there are active herpes lesions present, it is recommended to take DNA test (PCR) for the most accurate results. This type of herpes testing detects the genetic material of the HSV virus in a sample (swab of lesions, blood, vitreous fluid, plasma, serum). This method can also determine which type of the virus – HSV-1 or HSV-2 – is present in the sample. DNA herpes testing is a sensitive and rapid way to get tested for HSV.
Viral Culture Herpes Testing
Viral culture herpes testing uses cells or fluid from a fresh sore to grow HSV. It is one of the most popular methods to detect genital herpes. However, viral culture has a high rate of false negative results and, thus, it is much less accurate than DNA test. Viral culture herpes testing is more reliable if taken right after the initial exposure to the virus.
Antibodies Herpes Testing
If there are no symptoms present, it is advised to get a blood test that can detect herpes antibodies. When a person gets infected with herpes, their immune system produces antibodies (proteins) to fight the virus. And so if there are antibodies found in a body, it means that a person is infected with HSV. Keep in mind, that it takes several weeks (and, in many cases, up to six months) for a person to develop antibodies after initial exposure to herpes. After that, antibodies remain in a body forever.
A type-specific herpes IgG test can tell the difference between HSV-1 and HSV-2 antibodies present in the blood.
Herpes is a very common virus. HSV-1 (oral herpes) can be transmitted through sharing utensils and drinks, kissing, and during oral sex. HSV-2 (genital herpes) is a sexually-transmitted infection that is spread through skin-to-skin contact.
Whether you have herpes outbreaks or not, it is important to get tested for herpes to protect your loved ones and yourself. Don’t waste time and money by going to your doctor to get tested. Instead, find a herpes testing lab near you, order tests online at great prices, and receive the results by e-mail afterward. Take action and get tested today!