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Diagnosing herpes

Susan July 21, 2012 Herpes, Women's Health Comments Off on Diagnosing herpes
Diagnosing herpes

Taking a Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) 1 and 2-Specific Ab, IgG is extremely important if you’re sexually active and think you’ve been exposed to HSV (Herpes Simplex Virus). There is no cure for herpes, and it’s estimated by experts that 60 million Americans have the virus that causes genital herpes. Anyone who is sexually active is at risk for getting or spreading the herpes virus.

How is herpes diagnosed?

Diagnosing genital herpes by physical examination alone is difficult for your health-care provider. For this reason, laboratory tests are useful for diagnosis and will help you and your health-care provider determine what actions need to be taken to manage your symptoms and help you prevent transmission to a sexual partner or unborn child.

Laboratory testing is required for an accurate diagnosis.

The following information will help you take an active role in your diagnosis and treatment. When visiting your health-care provider it is important to disclose how long you have had the sore or lesion and if you have experienced symptoms previously.
• If you have genital lesions or sores at the time of your physical exam, a swab of the lesion may be taken and sent to the laboratory for viral culture.
• If your lesions are healing, your symptoms are unclear, or you are sexually active but do not have symptoms, a blood test may be performed to confirm infection.
Based on the sample taken, your healthcare provider may order a variety of tests to help make a diagnosis. It is important to make sure a type specific HSV test is requested. This information is important because the prognosis and other decisions for a HSV-1 differ from HSV-2.

Frequently Asked Questions

1) I think I have genital herpes. Is it necessary to get tested?

Yes. It is important that you seek testing from your health professional so that you can be properly diagnosed. If you are diagnosed with genital herpes, you and your physician can discuss ways to manage this disease and reduce the risk of transmission to your partner or baby, if you are pregnant.

2) How is herpes diagnosed?

Health professionals diagnose herpes by taking your medical/sexual history, performing a clinical examination, and ordering laboratory tests. The presence of herpes virus can sometimes be determined from a swab of an active lesion (sore). A blood test (serology) can determine if you have herpes, even if you don’t have symptoms. Newer serology methods utilize highly specific technology that can determine if you have herpes type-1 or type-2 (genital herpes).

3) Can you spread genital herpes when you are not having an outbreak?

Yes. Genital herpes can be spread even when there are no visible signs of outbreak. This is called asymptomatic viral shedding. Most people contract genital herpes from an infected partner who has no symptoms.

4) If I become pregnant and have genital herpes, can I transmit it to the baby?

It is possible to transmit infection to your baby if you become infected during pregnancy or if you have an outbreak at the time of delivery. Your healthcare provider can discuss ways to reduce the possibility of transmission to your baby and carefully monitor you for symptoms during your pregnancy. Women with genital herpes can have healthy babies.

5) Is there any connection between AIDS and herpes?

Genital herpes, and other genital diseases that produce sores, increase a person’s risk of getting HIV if they are sexually active with an infected (HIV) individual. People who have both infections have more frequent symptoms and shed virus at a much higher rate, thus increasing the likelihood of transmitting infection.

6) Who gave this to me?

If you have been sexually involved with more than one partner, it will be difficult to determine the source of infection, as genital herpes infection can be spread even when there are no visible signs of outbreak. As genital herpes infections are often asymptomatic or symptoms go unrecognized, it will also be difficult to determine when you were first infected. Over 50% of people contracting herpes get it from a partner who is unaware they have it.

7) What do I tell my partner?

It is important to share this information with your partner before you become sexually active. If this has already happened, there is a very good chance your partner has already been infected and needs to visit a healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment. The best approach is to be direct and honest. Carefully think of the words you will use and deliver them in a frank, open manner that will lead the way to further discussion about your sexual relationship. Since herpes is just one of many sexually transmitted diseases, and the consequences of some are more grim than herpes, this dialog is necessary to built the trust and commitment needed for a relationship.

8 ) Where can I get more information about herpes?

The American Social Health Association has a Herpes Resource Center to assist people with herpes. There is a quarterly newsletter, called The Helper, a telephone hotline, and information about local HELP groups.

For more information, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to:

National Herpes Resource Center
American Social Health Association
P.O. Box 1327
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709

Herpes Hotline
1 (919) 361-8488

Or call the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Sexually Transmitted Disease National Hotline at (800) 227-8922

9) Where can I purchase the Herpes Test?

The Herpes Simplex Virus 1 and 2 IgG Blood Test is available at HealthCheckUSA at an affordable price.

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