Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus. There are two types of herpes: type 1 and type 2. HSV-1 commonly affect the lips and mouth and appear as cold sores. HSV-2, called genital herpes, affects the genitals and breaks out more often than HSV-1. There are several different herpes tests that can be performed to determine if you have the virus. The most common herpes tests are from swabs of herpes sores in the genital area. However, a blood test is very accurate, and in the future tests might only require urine or tears to accurately diagnose a herpes infection.
Cell Culture Test
One common herpes test is a viral cell culture test. A health care professional swabs a genital herpes sore, places the swab into a culture cup and examines the sample under a microscope to identify the herpes simplex virus in your cells.
The viral antigen herpes test is often done at the same time as a cell culture herpes test because it also uses a swab from a genital herpes sore. It’s very similar to the cell culture herpes test, but instead of looking for the virus under a microscope, the technician looks for the antigens that your body produces in response to the infection. Both the cell culture and antigen tests can produce false negatives, meaning that the test might indicate you aren’t infected with herpes when you really are.
Herpes Blood Test
A more accurate STD test for herpes is to identify the herpes virus’s DNA in a sample of your blood. The PCR blood test can tell you if you have been infected with herpes even if you’re not currently experiencing any symptoms, but it can’t tell you when you were infected.
Another STD test for herpes adds the antibodies your body uses to fight the herpes infection in a fluorescent solution and examines the results under a microscope. If you have the herpes virus, the glowing antibodies will find the diseased cells and stick to them. The antibody test enables you to identify if you have HSV-1, HSV-2 or both.
Anonymous Herpes Test
If you go to your doctor to get a confidential herpes test, you doctor must report your name and other personal information to the state health department if you test positive for the herpes simplex virus. Your doctor doesn’t even need to notify you that he’s reporting you to the health department because it’s required by law. If you want to protect your anonymity in case you test positive for the herpes virus, use our free guide to anonymous STD testing and get an anonymous herpes test.