Should YOU be tested for genital herpes?
Wondering if you should be tested for herpes? Well, it’s a controversial question, but here’s a partial list of those who might be a good candidate for the blood test.
First of all, if you are asking the question, you should get the test. Put those concerns to rest.
2. If you’ve had any sexual partners in the past and you wonder if you may have gotten herpes without developing symptoms.
3. If you’ve had a partner in the past who has herpes, you might want to be tested to be sure you don’t have it.
4. If you are currently in a relationship with a partner who has genital herpes and you are wondering how to reduce the risk of transmission, your first logical step is to determine if YOU HAVE ALREADY BEEN AFFECTED! Why in the world would you go through the trouble to reduce your risk of getting the infection if you already have it!
5. Anyone who has been diagnosed with herpes by a visual examination alone and wants confirmation.
6. A person who has had suspicious skin lesions but negative herpes cultures. The swabs can produce a false negative result. The blood test is MUCH more sensitive.
7. Someone who has had symptoms diagnosed as a recurrent urinary tract infections (uti), but bacteria never grow out on a urine culture. Herpes lesions in the urethra can cause you to have white cells on a urine dipstick and can cause pain or burning when you urinate - just like an uti.
8. Anyone who wants to get screened for sexually transmitted diseases. Never assume that your healthcare provider will order a herpes blood test when they test for other STDs.
Pregnant women should consider testing. It is not usually included in the pregnancy screening and an outbreak near delivery could be disastrous.
10. If you have new symptoms and wonder if this is a first infection or reactivation of an old one, you can get the swab test for cultures and a blood test at the same time. If the herpes culture (swab) is positive and the blood test is negative, then this is your first infection - you haven’t had time to develop antibodies to the virus.
Be sure you get IgG testing - IgM testing is worthless and that it is type specific. You want to know if you have HSV1 or 2.
Charlotte Grayson, M.D., is an internist in the Atlanta, Georgia, area. She is a 1995 graduate of Boston University School of Medicine. She completed her internal medicine residency in 1998 at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. Previously, Dr. Grayson was Senior Medical Editor for a leading healthcare content company. She frequently speaks to the media about health, appearing on Fox News and CNN and contributing to TIME, Real Simple, Women’s Health, and WebMD magazines.