All You Need and Want to Know About a Herpes Test
The Herpes Simplex Virus is much easier to diagnose when the infection is still present. Infected individuals should go to a STD clinic since anything discussed or discovered is confidential there. A health care professional will take a swab of fluid from the infected area, which may require gently breaking the blister. The procured sample will be sent to a laboratory. If the result is negative, it does not mean the person doesn't have herpes. Confirmation is probable if the patient has subsequent recurrences.
Herpes tests are usually based on two categories: Sensitivity and Specificity. Sensitivity refers to the likelihood of correctly diagnosing herpes. Specificity is the probability if a test correctly determining that the patient does not have herpes. For those who have sores or other outward signs of infection, the leading method is taking a Viral Culture sample of the infected tissue. When no symptoms of the disease are present or if they have already healed, blood tests may be required.
HSV (Herpes Simplex Virus) testing is used to detect presence of herpes in those who have genital sores, encephalitis, and newborns suspected of having neonatal herpes, a rare and serious condition in which the disease is contracted during childbirth. The primary methods of testing are the herpes culture and HSV DNA testing. Though it's not as sensitive, HSV antibody tests can be used to help diagnose acute HSV infection if acute and convalescent blood samples are collected. Antibody tests may be used to screen certain populations such as sexually active people, organ transplant recipient, and those with HIV or AIDS for a previously contracted herpes infection.
A herpes culture or HSV DNA testing may be ordered when a patient has a blister or vesicle on his / her genitals. HSV DNA test is ordered when a patient has encephalitis that is suspected to be caused by a virus. HSV tests can be ordered regularly when a pregnant woman is infected with the disease. HSV antibody tests are ordered when a patient is being screened for a previous exposure to herpes. Acute and convalescent HSV antibody tests may be ordered when a current infection is suspected.
During outbreaks, health care providers will look at sores and see if they seem typical of a herpes outbreak. They may swab the sores to see if it contains virus. The swab test isn't always accurate and has high risk of false negatives. Herpes Simplex Virus outbreaks usually appear as one or more blisters that break open to become sores.
Positive herpes simplex virus culture or HSV DNA test from a vesicle scraping indicates an active Herpes Type 1 or Herpes Type 2 infection. Negative test results indicate the herpes virus was not isolated but does not definitely rule out the presence of the infection.
The most serious and life-threatening herpes infections occur in newborns that are infected during birth and immunocompromised people. Lesions have a tendency to be more extensive and persist longer than in individuals who have healthy immune systems. Herpes can make people vulnerable to HIV infection. It can make HIV-infected individuals more infectious as well. Herpes, in combination with HPV or human papilloma virus, has been related with a higher risk of developing cervical cancer.