Herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted viruses in the U.S., with more than 3 million cases annually. More than half of the U.S. population has oral herpes, and about one in six has genital herpes. Herpes is spread by skin-to-skin contact with infected areas, often during kissing or vaginal, oral or anal sex.
There are two different but similar strains of the herpes virus. Though they are often referred to as either oral or genital herpes, either strain of the virus can cause both. The naming convention refers to where the sores appear and not which strain of the virus is the cause. Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) tends to cause oral herpes and herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) tends to cause genital herpes, but either strain can cause infection of genital or oral areas. Both strains can cause sores to appear on or around your vulva, vagina, cervix, anus, penis, scrotum, butt, inner thighs, lips, mouth, throat and eyes. For example, if you receive oral sex from someone with oral herpes, you will most likely contract the same virus, which will manifest in the form of genital herpes because of the point of contact. It’s also possible to contract both strains of the virus.
The sores typically come and go in what is referred to as an “outbreak.” Though herpes can be painful and an annoyance, it usually doesn’t lead to serious health problems. It does, however, stay in your body for life. While there is no cure, patients with herpes are usually prescribed antiviral medication to help control the symptoms and sometimes slow the progression of the infection or prevent passing it to others. With treatment, outbreaks usually become less frequent over time, though the person infected carries the virus with them for life.
How is Herpes Transmitted?
The HSV-1 virus, the form of herpes most commonly associated with oral herpes, is the most common strain of the herpes virus as it is typically the easiest to contract. Oral herpes can be transmitted through something as small as a peck on the lips. In fact, many people who are infected with oral herpes contract the virus as children after receiving a kiss from a parent or family member.
The virus is at its most contagious during an active outbreak in which open sores are present. However, the virus can still be passed when the carrier is not experiencing any symptoms of a herpes outbreak.
HSV-2, the virus associated with genital herpes, is most commonly passed through sexual contact, whether it is oral, vaginal or anal. You do not necessarily need to have sex with someone who has herpes in order to contract the virus, but sexual activity does pose a higher risk of viral transmission.
Contrary to popular belief, you cannot contract herpes through hugging, sneezing, coughing, holding hands, or toilet seats.
Why Should I Order an Early Herpes Detection Test?
If you suspect you’ve been exposed to herpes, it’s likely that you don’t want to wait long to get answers or treatment. Herpes early detection testing, sometimes called a herpes IgG & IgM combo test, can give you results as soon as ten days after exposure. It just requires a simple blood test. Other STDs, like syphilis, can sometimes look like herpes, so testing is the only way to know for sure if you’ve contracted herpes. If you would like to be tested for herpes, but don’t have reason to suspect that you contracted the virus recently, it’s better to go with a standard herpes test. The antibodies in your blood that the test screens for tend to phase out within a few months of contracting the virus, so an early herpes detection test may not be accurate if you contracted herpes prior to the previous few months.
What Are the Early Symptoms of Herpes?
Most people who contract herpes experience symptoms within one to two weeks of exposure. Symptoms of herpes, when mild, are often confused for things like the flu, ingrown hairs or pimples. It’s possible you may not see or feel any herpes symptoms. After contracting herpes, the first outbreak typically appears two to 20 days after you’ve been infected. However, it can sometimes take years for the first outbreak to appear. At the beginning of an outbreak of genital herpes, you might notice itchy, tingling or painful bumps on your vagina, vulva, cervix, penis, butt, anus or the inside of your thighs. These blisters will most likely break and turn into sores. You might also experience:
- Difficulty urinating
- Pain around your genitals
- Swollen glands around your pelvic area, throat or underarms
How Long Should I Wait Before Getting Tested?
If you suspect you’ve been exposed to and have possibly contracted herpes, the antibodies necessary to facilitate early herpes detection testing typically appear five to ten days after contact. We recommend waiting ten days before getting tested to ensure the most accurate results. Again, the antibodies necessary for early detection testing disappear after a few months, so it’s best not to wait too long before getting an early herpes detection test.
What Can I Expect When I Get Tested?
Getting tested can be stressful for many people, but try to remember that it is a normal aspect of living a healthy and responsible lifestyle. There is no shame in getting tested; in fact, it’s a very positive step you can take – for yourself and for those in your life – and should be a regular part of your life.
To test for herpes, doctors will collect a blood sample and test it for HSV antibodies: both HSV1 and HSV2. This test is sometimes referred to as the Herpes IgM test. While testing is very accurate, and can be performed as early as 10 days after exposure, getting tested too early can sometimes result in a false positive. If you get tested early, you should consider getting tested again at a later date as well, because antibodies for herpes may not present themselves for anywhere between two weeks and six months.
What Are the Benefits of an Early Herpes Detection Test?
Though there is no cure for herpes, early detection and diagnosis can get you started on antiviral medication that will lessen the symptoms and intensity of outbreaks, possibly before your first outbreak even occurs.
With Priority STD Testing, you can schedule early herpes detection testing as soon as you decide to get tested by either going online or calling. You won’t have to wait for your doctor to have availability. You can schedule a testing appointment right away. Appointments are available Monday through Saturday and typically take less than 15 minutes to complete.
At Priority STD Testing, we strive to make regular STD testing affordable, especially for individuals without insurance. We do not accept any form of private or federal health insurance, with the exception of allowing the use of health savings account (HSA) cards for payment. We do this so that your test results are not communicated to your insurance company and are not included as part of your medical record.
Peace of Mind
The sooner you know you have herpes, the sooner you can begin treatment and begin informing your partners, past and present, of your condition. Herpes is very common and also very manageable with medication. Getting tested will give you the peace of mind of knowing whether or not you have contracted the virus and can begin treatment.
What Can I Expect from Herpes Treatment?
While there is no cure for either strain of the herpes virus, there is still treatment available, and plenty of people who have herpes are able to live normal, healthy lifestyles. If you have herpes, your doctor can prescribe you medications that will help prevent or lessen the duration and severity of outbreaks, which greatly reduce your chance of displaying symptoms associated with the viruses.
Despite how common herpes is, there is a negative stigma associated with the virus and those who have it, just like there is with most STDs. This can cause people who have herpes a great deal of stress and anxiety. If you do contract herpes and test positive for either virus, you may want to seek out resources for your mental health in addition to antiviral treatment from your doctor. This could be in the form of one-on-one treatment with a medical professional, or seeking out others in your community who live with herpes. Living with the virus can be an adjustment at first, so it’s good to reach out to others who have lived with the virus longer for some perspective on life with the virus.
Herpes and Other STDs
While there are not many direct correlations between the herpes virus and the infection of other STDs, having open sores, whether they’re the result of an herpes outbreak or another infection, can increase your risk of contracting another sexually transmitted disease or infection, as well as any other blood-borne diseases. For example, people who have herpes are twice as likely to get HIV compared to people who do not have herpes. Additionally, people who have herpes and HIV are much more likely to pass HIV to their partners. It’s important to be aware of these risks, whether they are applicable to you or a partner, especially during active herpes outbreaks.
How Do I Order the Herpes Early Detection test?
To order the Herpes Early Detection test, please call to speak with one of our care counselors. Online ordering is not available for this test.Get Tested Now