Types of Herpes Tests Available Today
Herpes test methods vary, depending on whether or not you are experiencing an outbreak when tested. All require a sample of your blood.
Viral culture and DNA tests are performed when you have symptoms. Otherwise, a blood test that analyzes IgG antibodies is performed.
Here are the three most popular types of Herpes tests available today that do not require a visit to your doctor or a local hospital lab.
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The remainder of this page goes deeper into each of these three methods and shows you where you can find them in your town.
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1. At-Home Herpes Test
Buying an at-home test is the least expensive way to test for HSV-1 or HSV-2.
However, an at-home Herpes test requires a fresh and secured blood sample, which typically must be taken at a clinic; and, at-home STD tests are generally less accurate than using a local clinic or an online STD test service.
In addition, if you test positive for Herpes on an at-home test, you may have to purchase a secondary lab test to confirm the result.
At-home Herpes tests can be purchased from the following leading vendors:
2. Online STD Test Lab
Want the strictest confidentiality AND highly accurate results?
Then buying an online STD test service is a great choice.
Online Herpes Tests typically cost between $50 and $250.
STDCheck is the largest online test lab company in the US. They have a mobile friendly website & excellent customer reviews. Reasonable prices, too.
STDTestExpress is another solid choice with labs located in most major cities. Unlike other online labs, STDTestExpress bills your insurance provider directly, if you choose.
3. Free STD Test Clinic
Chances are, there’s a Free STD test clinic near you. Pretty much all of them test for Gonorrhea.
- In the US: Find a Free STD Test Clinic near you (CDC Website)
- In the UK: FPA’s Clinic Locator
- In Canada: CFSH’s Point of Service Locator
- In Australia: MSHC’s STD Services Locator
- In New Zealand: Family Planning Service Finder
What Is Herpes?
Herpes is a common, often mild and incurable sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by Herpes Simplex Virus-1 (HSV-1) and Herpes Simplex Virus-2 (HSV-2).
Oral herpes is most often caused by HSV-1 and genital herpes is most often caused by HSV-2. That said, HSV-1 or HSV-2 can infect either area of the body.
Herpes is a common sexually transmitted disease in the US. Over 50% of Americans have Herpes Simplex-1, and about one in six Americans currently have Simplex-2.
While Herpes outbreaks can be uncomfortable and stigmatizing, both forms of Herpes Simplex Virus are not generally dangerous for healthy adults. However, dangerous complications can occur for newborn children born to a mother infected with Herpes.
How Herpes Is Transmitted
Herpes is highly contagious and can be transmitted between sexual partners at any time; however, it is most easily transmitted several times a year when an outbreak occurs.
- Full sexual penetration is not required to transmit herpes.
- Any contact with infected fluids can transmit the disease.
- Herpes may be passed from mother to newborn. In rare cases, complications can develop that may be fatal to the child.
There is no cure for Herpes. A person infected with Herpes is infected for life.
That said, suppressive daily antiviral therapy with valacyclovir can reduce the risk of transmission to a partner.
Symptoms of Genital Herpes
Genital Herpes can be difficult to diagnose without an STD test for three reasons:
- Most people don’t know they are infected with HSV-2, because their symptoms are too mild or are mistaken for another condition.
- If a person develops Herpes symptoms, they may not occur until months after infection.
- The symptoms often look the same as insect bites, rashes and other common skin maladies.
Whether or not they are noticed, the number of outbreaks for a person infected with genital HSV-2 is 4-5 times per year.
During a Herpes outbreak, an infected person may notice:
- sores, vesicles, or ulcers in the genital or mouth region
- small pimples or blisters that produce a small scab and take 2-4 weeks to heal
- itching or burning sensations are sometimes felt in the infected area, just prior to an outbreak
The skin lesions may be located on the penis, vulva or around the anus. Or, they could be on the thighs, buttocks, or anywhere close to the genital region.