Genital herpes is a common STI that can be transmitted through sexual intercourse. Genital herpes is caused by the HSV-1 and HSV-2 viruses. Herpes testing can help people with symptoms of genital herpes confirm their infection or rule out an infection.
The symptoms of genital herpes include the following experiences:
There are several types of herpes but the most common one is HSV-1 or HSV-2. HSV-1 is commonly known as cold sores, while HSV-2 is commonly known as genital herpes.
You can get either type through oral sex or through sexual intercourse.
It can be difficult to tell whether you have a cold sore or genital herpes because symptoms for both look similar and the virus responsible for each lives in the same place on your body (the mouth or genitals).
Genital herpes can be spread through sexual intercourse. It can also be spread through oral sex and anal sex, or even skin-to-skin contact.
It is also possible for people with no symptoms to spread genital herpes. People infected with herpes are contagious even if they have no visible blisters or sores and feel perfectly healthy. About one in five people who has genital herpes doesn’t know it!
Even if you don’t have symptoms, you can still spread the virus to your partner(s). The only way to know whether or not you have herpes is by getting tested — and using protection every time you have sexual contact while waiting for results!
Herpes testing is done in several ways. A swab test is a sample of fluid taken from the affected area using a cotton swab and sent to a laboratory for analysis. A blood test is also available and involves taking a blood sample and sending it to the lab for analysis. Herpes tests are very accurate, but there are rare cases where false positives can occur with both types of tests. False positives are more likely when your immune system is too weak, such as if you have HIV or AIDS or if you've recently had an organ transplant
Herpes testing is one of the most common STD tests, with over 7 million HSV-2 infections in the US alone. While your doctor or health care provider can help you decide if you need to be tested for herpes, it's important to understand that swab tests for HSV-2 (herpes) have a low false positive rate.
The test is very accurate and highly sensitive, meaning that it can detect even small amounts of the virus in your body. It's also specific—a positive result means that you have herpes and no other STDs or infections—which means false positives are rare.
If you've been tested and the results are positive, wait to have sex with a partner until you know what's going on. There are several reasons why this is the best course of action:
It's very possible for someone to have the virus, but not have any symptoms. It's also possible for someone to be infected with HSV-2 but not show any signs of being infected. If you're not sure whether or not you have HSV-2, it's always a good idea to get tested.
Even if your partner doesn't show symptoms of an active infection, he or she may still be able to spread the virus by shedding their skin cells—even under clothing—and engaging in contact with other areas of your body (like genitalia). This means that even if you don't see sores or blisters on his penis during sex, there is still a chance that he could be giving you genital herpes without even knowing.
The odds of a false positive HSV-2 test result are astronomically low. Remember, the test is only supposed to tell you if you have herpes—it cannot tell you whether or not your partner has it. Your partner may have been tested in the past and had a negative result, but that does not mean that they do not have it now (or ever).
A false positive rate is defined as "the number of times a test result indicates that one has an infection when one does not." The false positive rate for HSV-2 tests is less than 1%. In other words, if your test comes back negative for herpes but your symptoms persist after several weeks or months, it's possible that you have another STI. As such, there are many reasons why someone could become infected with herpes even if they don't have visible outbreaks:
The swab test is the most common way to test for herpes, but it’s important that you know what you’re looking for before you go in for your testing. Make sure that your doctor knows about any symptoms or infections you may have had recently so they can help ensure accurate results.