Herpes simplex is a viral STD caused by the herpes simplex virus. The infection is categorized based on the location of the outbreak – if it affects the face or mouth, it is oral herpes; if it affects the genitals, it is genital herpes or just herpes.
In the past, there was a rule that HSV-1 only caused oral herpes and HSV-2 genital herpes. Today, genital herpes is mostly caused by the herpes simplex virus 2, but it can also be contracted from HSV-1 via oral sex.
How To Test For Herpes?
Reputable STD testing companies offer type-specific herpes blood tests. These testing solutions are designed to look for antibodies created by the immune system to fight off these viral infections. As we already mentioned, HSV-2 usually causes genital herpes and can be picked up around three weeks after potential exposure. However, doctors recommend waiting at least 4-6 weeks before taking the test. Retesting is recommended 3 months after exposure and it is performed to eliminate any possibility of a recurrent infection.
Testing for HSV-1 is usually done via the ELISA test (Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay). This test is also designed to detect antibodies in the bloodstream. The test is extremely sensitive and designed to specifically target HSV-1. However, around 20% of oral herpes infections are caused by HSV-2, so doctors usually recommend testing for both viruses, just to make sure.
Which STD Tests Check For Herpes?
If you want to get tested for herpes, you can either order type-specific herpes tests designed to identify the presence of HSV-1 or HSV-2 in your body or you can opt for a testing panel.
The golden rule of thumb goes – if you suspect recent exposure to one STD, it is definitely a good idea to test for all the others as well. In other words, if you suspect you might have herpes, you should definitely test for other STDs too. This is where comprehensive testing panels come into play. Reputable STD testing providers offer full screening panels that cover the most common STDs in the US, which naturally includes herpes.