The following section outlines some key details about the herpes virus, and herpes virus testing.
We only recommend testing for the herpes virus if you have experienced a suspected genital outbreak or cold sores, or if you have a partner with herpes or cold and have never had an outbreak yourself. If you have more questions about herpes before ordering this test, we suggest consulting a health care provider first.
We DO NOT recommend routine testing for the herpes virus antibodies, as they also carry a false positive rate and receiving a positive result can promote unnecessary anxiety.
There are two commonly discussed types of herpes simplex virus are HSV-1 and HSV-2. Either one can cause genital herpes or cold sores.
The terms 'genital' and 'oral' refer to the sites of infection and not the types. For example, you can get genital HSV-1 by receiving oral sex from someone who has a cold sore.
Most people who have genital herpes don't know they have the infection because they have mild, short-lived or no symptoms, or they think the symptoms are due to another condition (e.g., yeast infection, boils, bug bites, friction burns).
Herpes is transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected partner. Most HSV-2 infections are acquired through penetrative intercourse such as vaginal and anal sex, but non-penetrative exposures including genital-to-genital rubbing are also ways to transmit the virus. With regard to type 1 infections, most of them are acquired through oral sex.
Condoms, if used consistently and correctly will reduce, but will not eliminate the risk of HSV transmission or acquisition. They need to protect or completely cover the infected area or the area of potential exposure. They can also be used as a barrier for oral-genital sex if your partner has a history of cold sores.
Valacyclovir 500 mg ingested daily by a patient with genital HSV-2 infection has been shown to reduce transmission to a susceptible heterosexual partner by 48%. The effect of condoms and suppressive valacyclovir may be additive. At present time, TeleTest offers treatment doses for cold sores and genital outbreaks but does supply daily valacyclovir. If you are interested in daily supressive therapy, please contact a nearby walk in clinic or your family physician.