How to Test For Herpes

Once a person becomes infected with the Herpes Simplex Virus, he or she cannot be cured completely as the virus continues to stay in the body throughout life. The virus settles down in nerve cells and causes outbreaks of blisters. Infections that come back get triggered through fatigue, stress, extreme fever or ultra violet rays from the sunlight. Medicines can help provide relief from the symptoms and they shorten the duration of the outbreaks but they cannot cure the infection completely.

When you get infected by the herpes virus initially, it is better to get the confirmation through one of several tests:

  • PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) Blood Test
    This test helps in identifying whether you have genital herpes even when the symptoms are not easily traceable. It searches for traces of the herpes virus’ DNA and it is a common test for accurately diagnosing genital herpes. The PCR test will find the genetic material of the virus and can also tell the distinction between HSV-1 and HSV-2. In few rare cases, when the virus causes infection around your brain, this test is useful for examining the spinal fluid.
  • Cell Culture
    A sample is taken of the cells from your sores or their fluid with the help of a cotton swab and arranged in a culture cup. The Herpes Simplex Virus gets traced under the microscope. This culture examination may not give accurate results if the sores have started healing just after you have been infected as it takes many weeks for the antibodies of the Herpes Simplex Virus to show up in your bloodstream. You may come across a false-negative test when the exam will show that you do not have the virus when you may actually be carrying it.
  • Antibody Test
    These tests are meant for diagnosing genital herpes. The immune system produces antibodies when there is an infection in your body. A solution that contains antibodies of Herpes Simplex Virus and a fluorescent dye is added to a cell sample with direct testing techniques. If the sample contains the virus, the antibodies will stick to it and they will glow when you view them through a microscope. These tests are helpful but they will not be able to diagnose specific outbreaks.

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