Herpes Type 2 Test (HSV-2)
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About Our Herpes Type 2 Test (HSV-2)
Note: Fasting is not required for this test.
Herpes type 2 (HSV-2) is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). It causes skin infection, sores, and blisters most commonly in the genital area, and is often referred to as genital herpes. Genital herpes is contracted during oral, vaginal, or anal sex and can be spread through infected bodily fluids from the mouth or the genitals, including semen, saliva, herpes lesions, sores, or blisters.
What to Expect From an HSV-2 Blood Test
HSV-2 testing should be conducted between four and six weeks after potential exposure.
When the body is infected with HSV-2, it produces antibodies to help fight the infection, called immunoglobulin G (IgG). The HerpeSelect® Herpes Type 2 Test is used to identify IgG in the blood. The HerpeSelect® Herpes Type 2 Test is 97 to 99 percent accurate between four to six weeks post-exposure and remains 99 percent accurate after 6 weeks post-exposure. It’s important to wait at least four weeks after exposure, because it takes time for the body to develop antibodies that are detected by a blood test. The HerpeSelect® Herpes Type 2 Test detects HSV-2, even when there are no symptoms and the infection is not active.
Our herpes type 2 blood test requires a blood draw from the arm. Simply choose your test, use our lab locator to find the lab closest to you, and visit at your convenience. An appointment is not necessary, and walk-ins are welcome. You can expect results to arrive to your HealthLabs.com account in one to three business days.
The herpes type 2 blood test does not test for herpes type 1. If you would also like to be tested for herpes type 1, consider using our HerpeSelect® herpes type 1 & 2 panel.
Symptoms of Genital Herpes
Most people with herpes type 2 do not have symptoms and have no idea they are infected. However, it is still possible to pass genital herpes onto another person even when there are no visible signs of infection.
When symptoms are present, they may include:
- Blisters and sores on the genital, buttock, thigh, or rectal areas
- Flu-like symptoms
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Cracked, raw, or red skin on the genital or anal areas
The symptoms of herpes type 2 can be uncomfortable but oftentimes do not cause serious health complications in adults.
Herpes type 2 can be passed on to an infant during childbirth, affecting the baby’s skin, eyes, mouth, and even the nervous system. HSV-2 can be deadly for a newborn child. Individuals must know their status to take protective measures during pregnancy and delivery.
Who Should Get Tested for HSV-2?
Men and women who have symptoms of herpes type 2 and those at a higher risk of contracting the virus should consider being tested.
Individuals who are considered high risk for contracting genital herpes are those who:
- Have a sex partner that has been diagnosed with herpes type 2
- Have multiple sex partners
- Are men who have sex with men
- Have a partner diagnosed with HIV or another sexually transmitted disease (STD)
- Do not use a condom when having sex
Diagnosis & Treatment of Genital Herpes
There is currently no cure for genital herpes. Treatment may consist of managing symptoms and reducing the risk of infecting others by taking antiviral medications. HSV-2 is a recurring condition, meaning that outbreaks may occur even after the initial symptoms have been cleared up. The severity and number of outbreaks tend to lessen over time. Outbreaks most commonly occur when the immune system is compromised, for example during times of stress.
- “Herpes (HSV) Test.” Medline Plus. https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/herpes-hsv-test/
- “Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) Type 1- and Type 2-Specific Antibodies, Serum.” Mayo Clinic Laboratories. https://www.mayocliniclabs.com/test-catalog/Clinical+and+Interpretive/84422
- “Herpes Simplex Virus.” World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/herpes-simplex-virus
- “Herpes Simplex Virus: HSV-1 & HSV-2.” WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/genital-herpes/pain-management-herpes
- “Common Symptoms of Genital Herpes.” WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/genital-herpes/common-symptoms