Herpes FAQ and Herpes Testing Info

Both herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) may cause genital herpes. However, HSV-2 mostly causes genital herpes. You could have HSV-1, HSV-2 or both, and not know it. Some people display nominal signs or no signs at all. When signs and symptoms are apparent, they generally appear as one or maybe several blisters on or close to an individual’s genitals or rectum.

Who Can Get Genital Herpes?

In the U.S., twenty percent of people 12 or older have an HSV-2 infection. Of these, 90% are unaware they have the herpes simplex virus. Professionals believe 55% to 75% of adults are infected with oral herpes.

How Can Herpes Be Spread?

HSV-1 can easily spread person-to-person through kissing. HSV-1 can also be passed via oral sex from the mouth to the genitals becoming genital herpes. HSV-2 is spread by either anal or vaginal sex. HSV-2 may also be transmitted from the genitals to the mouth.

What Tests Detect Herpes?

HSV 1 & 2 – IgG

HSV 1 & 2 – IgG is the preferred test for detecting Herpes. The herpes virus gives off antibodies that this test detects. The test can determine what type of herpes simplex virus you have, but is unable to state definitively where the infection has manifested on your body. For anyone who is asymptomatic, the length the virus has been present in the body cannot be identified.

HSV Types 1 & 2 – IgM

The HSV Types 1 & 2 – IgM test won’t show you which kind of herpes simplex virus you’ve got. But it can find the antibodies created right after initial HSV contact. These antibodies make an appearance about seven days after being infected with the virus.

What Kind of Sample Do You Need?

To find the specific antibodies, a blood sample is used.

Herpes Symptoms

  • Genital herpes symptoms can vary; many people don’t have any noticeable signs.
  • symptoms appear 2 to 20 days after original contact
  • if case is mild, may detect no symptoms
  • men and women who have had facial herpes, or cold sores, can be in some measure immune to the virus and symptoms tend to be much less severe
  • visible sores are sometimes visible with the very first attack
  • could last 10 to 21 days

HSV-1 (Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1)

HSV-1 usually infects the oral cavity. However, genital HSV-1 might be contracted through oral-to-genital contact with an HSV-1-infected individual. Most HSV-1-infected people display no signs or minimal signs of having the virus. If a symptom does occur, it usually appears as an individual blister, or several blisters around or on the lips and mouth.

HSV-2 (Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2)

HSV-2 in most cases infects the genitals of both men and women. However, HSV-2 might be contracted by genital-to-oral contact with an HSV-2-infected person. Genital HSV-2 infection is more uncommon in males (one out of five) than women (one out of four).

You can contract herpes from an infected companion even when they do not have an apparent sore. Those with HSV-2 infections may never have sores and very mild signs and symptoms of the virus. Often, they mistake a mild blister as a skin condition or insect bite.

The blisters turn up around the genitals or the rectum. These sores generally burst open, leaving behind an ulcer. If this is the 1st episode, these sores generally take 2 to 4 weeks to go away. If infected, you can expect several episodes throughout the first year (four to five weeks). The herpes virus remains in your body. However, outbreaks diminish over time. For people with a suppressed immune system, herpes episodes may occur more frequently with herpes blisters that are more serious.

When utilized properly, a latex condom may minimize the risk of being infected with genital herpes. But a condom will not guarantee protection if the infected region isn’t covered by the condom.

If blisters or herpes symptoms are obvious, the best way to not infect a partner is to fully refrain from any sexual activity. An infected companion may still infect their sex partners even though they do not have any symptoms of HSV. So, HSV-infected individuals should advise their partners that they may become infected.

Female Herpes Outbreak

Signs typically show up within 2 to 20 days of becoming infected. Females with signs have more frequent outbreaks throughout the first couple of years just after being infected with HSV. The breakouts will decrease in later years.

Male Herpes Outbreak

If transmitted by oral sex, an HSV infection may pass from the mouth to the genitals or the genitals to the mouth. HSV does not spread via toilet seats, swimming pools, hot tubs, or bath tubs.