How to Get Diagnosed with Herpes
Here's the deal, the herpes test is not included in the STI panel. So even if you’re a responsible sexually active adult and you ask your doctor for every STI test, most likely herpes will not be included in the herpes test.
Not including the herpes test on the STI panel is part of the problem on why there are so many people getting herpes, why so many people don’t know they have it and why we have a huge ugly stigma around people who have herpes. But…we’re not going to fix this today.
The reason why it’s not included on the STI panel is for 2 reasons; one being that medically it's not a big deal, and two being that if you’re not getting outbreaks the aftermath mentally of knowing you have herpes is far worse than what the disease actually does.
OK, but back on track to how to get diagnosed with herpes.
There are 3 ways to get diagnosed with herpes
- Clinical Diagnosis
- IgG or IgM blood test
- Viral Culture
Clinical diagnosis is when a doctor or medical professional looks at the active outbreak lesions or blisters and then also looks at your symptoms. By comparing the way the outbreak looks to also listening to a patient's symptoms it can be clear that it’s herpes. Herpes IgG and IgM antibodies show up around the same time — normally, IgM antibodies appear first. IgM antibodies may only last a few months and may not be made after the first outbreak, but IgG antibodies last indefinitely and are made during all outbreaks.
A blood test is looking for the antibodies in your blood. Please note that the herpes virus does not live in your blood, it actually lives in your nervous system, but what the doctors are looking for are the IgG or the IgM antibodies. What are the IgG and IgM antibodies? IgG and IgM antibodies show up around the same time when a person is infected. Normally, IgM antibodies appear first but may only last a few months and may not be made after the first outbreak but IgG antibodies last indefinitely and are made during all outbreaks. Source.
The viral culture is when a swab is done of the lesion. This involves taking a tissue sample or scraping of the outbreak for examination in the laboratory. This can only be done when there is an active outbreak because we need something to get a sample of.
The Pros and Cons with the different herpes tests
When it comes to being clinically diagnosed the great thing is that you can walk away with an answer. You’re not waiting for any lab results to come back in. The down side is that there is no way to know what type you have. Just by looking at the outbreak dependent on where the location there is no way to know if it’s HSV type 1 or HSV type 2.
The IgG blood test positive side is that you will know what type you have and if you test positive for the IgG then it’s a pretty accurate result. I know you may not like the results, but at least you will know your answer. The down side is that it can take weeks, months or even years for the IgG antibodies to appear in your system. So if you test too soon then you might get a negative result but your body just hasn’t procured the antibodies. Another down side is that you don’t know the location of your outbreak. The test just indicates that you have herpes and the type of herpes. Not the location nor for how long.
And finally the pros of having a viral culture test are that you know the location and you will know the type. The down side is that you have to have an active lesion. If you swab too early, too late or without an outbreak you most likely will come back with negative results.
As you can see, there are different types of tests as well as questions to potentially ask your doctor about your test. Each way to get tested or get diagnosed are a little different and can be great based on your needs.
If you’re reading this because you think you have an outbreak, the best way to get answers now is using HerpAlert. They are the only telehealth company that is focused and serving the herpes community. I’ve used them when I need immediate response for a antiviral prescription refill as well as I have recommended many many people to them for support. They have doctors all over the US who can clinically diagnose you with herpes, talk to you on the phone if needed and get the prescription to your local pharmacy ASAP. I use them personally and I know hundreds of people who have reached out to HerpAlert for herpes support as well.
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