genital herpes simplex virus 2 under microscope
Genital Herpes (HSV-2) virus

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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STD Test OptionCostPay w/ Insur.?AccuracyConfi dential?Time (days)Where To BuyDiscounts
Doctor + Lab$200-$500YES99%+NO2-5--
Online Lab $50-$300NO99%+YES0-3STDCheck $10 off
Home Test Kit$25-$200NO< 99%YES0-3MyLabBox Save $10
Free Clinic


The remainder of this page goes deeper into each of these three methods and shows you where you can find them in your town.

Good luck on your test!


1. At-Home Herpes Test

Herpes simplex at home 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:


Learn more about At-Home STD Tests

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.

sample Herpes online STD test result

Where To Buy an Online STD Test

The largest provider of online lab tests in the US is

STDCheck logo 735px

  • With over 4,000 locations, STDCheck is one of the most popular online STD test providers in the US.
  • Save $10 now
Shop Now & Save $10
Learn more about Online STD Tests

3. Free STD Test Clinic

Free STD Test Clinic requires counseling
Most Free Test Clinics require counseling

Chances are, there’s a Free STD test clinic near you. Pretty much all of them test for Gonorrhea.

CDC Free STD Test Clinic 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

how Herpes is transmitted
Herpes transmission pathway

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:

  1. Most people don’t know they are infected with HSV-2, because their symptoms are too mild or are mistaken for another condition.
  2. If a person develops Herpes symptoms, they may not occur until months after infection.
  3. 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.

Common Symptoms

Herpes lesions in pubic region

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.

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