Herpes (HSV)

Herpes (HSV) Testing and health information

If you're struggling with troubling herpes symptoms, such as new sores on your body, herpes testing can put your mind at ease and help you find a solution.


Name Matches

Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (IgG), Type-Specific Antibody (HerpeSelect®) 

Tests for HSV 1 IGG, TYPE SPECIFIC AB to diagnose HSV-1 infection when lesions are absent. A positive HSV-1 IgG antibody test indicates a previous infection.

Reference Range(s)

Index Interpretation

  • <0.90 Negative 
  • 0.90-1.09 Equivocal 
  • >1.09 Positive 

This assay utilizes recombinant type-specific antigens to differentiate HSV-1 from HSV-2 infections. A index positive result cannot distinguish between recent and past infection. If recent HSV infection is suspected but the results are negative or equivocal, the assay should be repeated in 4-6 weeks. The performance index characteristics of the assay have not been established for pediatric populations, immunocompromised patients, or neonatal screening.

Limitations

Individuals infected with HSV may not exhibit detectable IgG antibody in the early stages of infection.

Clinical Significance

Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) is responsible for several clinically significant human viral diseases, with severity ranging from inapparent to fatal. Clinical manifestations include genital tract infections, neonatal herpes, meningoencephalitis, keratoconjunctivitis, and gingivostomatitis. There are two HSV serotypes that are closely related antigenically. HSV type 2 is more commonly associated with genital tract and neonatal infections, while HSV type 1 is more commonly associated with infections of non-genital sites. Specific typing is not usually required for diagnosis or treatment. The mean time to seroconversion using the type specific assay is 25 days. The performance of this assay has not been established for use in a pediatric population, for neonatal screening, or for testing of immunocompromised patients.


Description: The Herpes simplex virus 1/2 test is a test that is used to measure the herpes antibodies to detect a previous infection of herpes.

Also Known As: Herpes Simplex Virus 1/2 IgG Type-Specific Antibodies, Herpes, Herpes 1 and 2 Test, Herpes 1 Test, Herpes 2 Test, Herpes IgG Test

Collection Method: Blood Draw            

Specimen Type: Serum

Test Preparation: No preparation required

When is a Herpes 1 and 2 Antibody test ordered?

When someone has a blister on their genitals, a herpes test may be recommended.

Antibody testing for HSV is usually requested when someone is being screened for a previous HSV infection. When a current infection is suspected, acute and convalescent HSV antibody tests may be conducted.

When someone has another STD and is at risk for infection, a healthcare provider may request an HSV antibody test. Multiple sexual partners, a sexual partner with herpes, HIV infection, or being at risk for HIV because the person is a guy who has sex with men are all risk factors.

What does a Herpes 1 and 2 Antibody blood test check for?

The herpes simplex virus causes herpes, which is a common viral ailment. HSV-1 and HSV-2 are the two primary forms of the virus. Herpes simplex virus testing looks for herpes antibodies in the blood to see if you've had herpes before.

Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 are contagious and create little fever blisters that burst open to form open lesions on a regular basis. HSV-1 is more likely to create blisters or "cold sores" around the mouth, whilst HSV-2 is more likely to develop lesions in the genital area; nevertheless, both can affect the oral and genital areas.

The herpes simplex virus can be transmitted from person to person by physical contact while sores are open and healing, as well as when no sores are evident. HSV-2 is more commonly spread through sexual contact, while HSV-1 can also be acquired through oral sex and discovered in the vaginal area. According to the American Sexual Health Association, around 50% of adults in the United States have HSV-1, whereas approximately 17% have HSV-2. Because symptoms are often modest, 90 percent of persons infected with HSV-2 may be unaware of their infection.

When a person is first infected, they may experience visible and painful blisters at the infection site, which normally occur two weeks after the virus is transferred. In most cases, the lesions heal in two to four weeks. Blisters can form in the vaginal area, on the penis, around the anus, or on the buttocks or thighs, among other places. This initial episode may include a second blister breakout as well as flu-like symptoms like fever and swollen glands. Blisters do not affect everyone, and the symptoms can be so subtle that they go unnoticed or be mistaken for something else, such as bug bites or a rash.

When a person is infected with HSV and the infection clears, the virus remains latent in the person's body. The virus might reactivate at times of stress or illness.

People with illnesses that impair the immune system, such as HIV/AIDS or those who have undergone an organ transplant, may experience more frequent and severe HSV outbreaks. While there is no cure for herpes, antiviral drugs can help to control outbreaks and shorten the time between symptoms and active virus shedding.

When a woman transfers the virus to her infant during a vaginal delivery, it can cause neonatal herpes. Neonatal herpes symptoms emerge within the first month of life and, if addressed, can harm a baby's health in the long run. A pregnant woman with herpes who has been diagnosed may be followed routinely prior to delivery to detect reactivation of the infection, which would necessitate a caesarean section to avoid infecting the baby.

The herpes simplex virus can cause encephalitis if it enters the brain. Those who survive this illness may succumb to it or suffer from major, long-term neurological disorders.

Lab tests often ordered with a Herpes 1 and 2 Antibody test:

  • HIV
  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C

Conditions where a Herpes 1 and 2 Antibody test is recommended:

  • HIV
  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases

How does my health care provider use a Herpes 1 and 2 antibody test?

In people who have genital sores or encephalitis, herpes simplex virus testing is performed to diagnose a current herpes infection. It's also used to test neonates for neonatal herpes, an uncommon but deadly illness in which herpes is contracted during vaginal delivery.

HSV testing can also be performed to determine whether or not you have had a previous infection. Testing may be performed to identify between a primary, active infection and a recurrent illness in persons who have symptoms.

Antibody testing for herpes simplex virus detects immunological proteins produced by the body in response to a herpes infection. Antibodies are divided into two types by the body. Several days after an initial HSV infection, it begins to create IgM class antibodies, which can be detected in the blood for several weeks. Following HSV IgM, it begins to create HSV IgG antibodies. IgG levels in the blood rise for several weeks, then gradually fall and ultimately stable. Once infected with HSV, the infected person will continue to produce modest amounts of HSV IgG.

HSV antibody testing can detect both viral forms, and there are tests that can detect both early IgM antibodies and long-lasting IgG antibodies in persons who have been exposed.

HSV antibody testing can be used to assist diagnose an acute HSV infection if blood samples are collected many weeks apart, albeit it is not as sensitive as PCR or culture. The HSV IgG antibody levels are compared to check if they have increased significantly, indicating that an infection is present.

Antibody testing may also be used to screen for a previously contracted HSV infection in select populations, such as sexually active adults, possible organ transplant recipients, and those with HIV infection.

What do my Herpes 1 and 2 antibody test results mean?

A positive IgG antibody test for HSV-1 or HSV-2 implies a past infection.

When comparing data from acute and convalescent samples, a large increase in HSV IgG antibodies indicates an active or recent infection.

Negative HSV antibody results indicate that the person was either not exposed to HSV or that the body did not have enough time to produce HSV antibodies.

We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical healthcare professional for proper interpretation of your results.



Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) is responsible for several clinically significant human viral diseases, with severity ranging from inapparent to fatal. Clinical manifestations include genital tract infections, neonatal herpes, meningo-encephalitis, keratoconjunctivitis, and gingivostomatitis. There are two HSV serotypes that are closely related anti-genically. HSV type 2 is more commonly associated with genital tract and neonatal infections, while HSV type 1 is more commonly associated with infections of non-genital sites. Specific typing is not usually required for diagnosis or treatment. The mean time to seroconversion using the type specific assay is 25 days. The performance of this assay has not been established for use in a pediatric population, for neonatal screening, or for testing of immunocompromised patients.3


Herpes Simplex Virus 2 (IgG), Type-Specific Antibody (HerpeSelect®) 

HSV 2 IGG, TYPE SPECIFIC AB - Diagnose HSV-2 infection when lesions are absent.

Reference Range(s)

Index Interpretation

  • <0.90 Negative
  • 0.90-1.09 Equivocal
  • >1.09 Positive

This assay utilizes recombinant type-specific antigens to differentiate HSV-1 from HSV-2 infections. A index positive result cannot distinguish between recent and past infection. If recent HSV infection is suspected but the results are negative or equivocal, the assay should be repeated in 4-6 weeks. The performance index characteristics of the assay have not been established for pediatric populations, immunocompromised patients, or neonatal screening.

Limitations

Individuals infected with HSV may not exhibit detectable IgG antibody in the early stages of infection.

Clinical Significance

Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) is responsible for several clinically significant human viral diseases, with severity ranging from inapparent to fatal. Clinical manifestations include genital tract infections, neonatal herpes, meningoencephalitis, keratoconjunctivitis, and gingivostomatitis. There are two HSV serotypes that are closely related antigenically. HSV type 2 is more commonly associated with genital tract and neonatal infections, while HSV type 1 is more commonly associated with infections of non-genital sites. Specific typing is not usually required for diagnosis or treatment. The mean time to seroconversion using the type specific assay is 25 days. The performance of this assay has not been established for use in a pediatric population, for neonatal screening, or for testing of immunocompromised patients.


Herpes Virus 6 DNA, Qualitative, Real-Time PCR 

HERPES VIRUS 6 DNA,QL REAL TIME PCR


HHV-6 is a distinct herpes virus that typically causes a self-limiting illness in patients who are not immunocompromised. In some patients, especially if immumocompromised, HHV-6 can cause febrile convulsions in infants, encephalitis mononucleosis-like symptoms, and hepatitis.




Description: The Varicella-Zoster Virus test will test the blood for chickenpox antibodies. This test can be used to determine if a person has the chickenpox antibodies, which can be a result of a previous chickenpox infection or a varicella vaccine.

Also Known As: Varicella Titer Test, VZV Titer Test, VZV Test, Varicella Test, VZV Antibody Test, Chicken Pox Titer Test, Chicken Pox Test, Shingles Titer Test, Shingles Test, Herpes Zoster Virus Test, Herpes Zoster Titer Test

Collection Method: Blood Draw

Specimen Type: Serum

Test Preparation: No preparation required

When is a Varicella Zoster IgG Antibody test ordered?

VZV antibody testing may be requested when a healthcare provider wants to see if a patient has gained immunity to VZV, especially if the patient is at high risk, such as an organ transplant recipient or a pregnant woman, and/or if the patient has recently been infected.

When a person at risk, such as a newborn or someone who is immunocompromised, has been exposed to VZV and is ill with atypical and/or severe symptoms, a VZV culture or DNA test may be ordered to detect an active primary VZV infection in the baby or a primary or reactivated infection in the immunocompromised person.

What does a Varicella Zoster IgG Antibody blood test check for?

The varicella zoster virus, a member of the herpes virus family, is responsible for chickenpox and shingles. Antibodies produced by the immune system in response to a VZV infection or the virus itself are detected in varicella zoster virus tests.

To detect and diagnose a current or previous infection with VZV, tests for chickenpox and shingles may be used. Testing is not always necessary to diagnose a current infection because clinical signs and symptoms are often suffice, but in some persons with unusual skin lesions, a diagnostic test can assist confirm the illness. The tests may be used to detect a present infection in some people, particularly organ transplant recipients and pregnant women, or to establish whether or not they have developed immunity from a previous infection or immunization.

VZV affected practically everyone in the United States by adulthood before the release and widespread use of a chickenpox vaccine in 1995. While VZV is present in latent form in many adults who were infected as children, the prevalence of new episodes of chickenpox has decreased dramatically, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The vaccine is around 98 percent effective in avoiding illness after two doses, and those who do get sick usually have milder symptoms.

Chickenpox can be caused by the Varicella zoster virus in children and adults who have not been vaccinated or exposed previously. The primary illness is highly contagious, and it can be spread from person to person by coughing, sneezing, or touching blister fluid. Signs and symptoms of a primary infection include an itchy rash that appears two weeks after virus introduction, followed by the creation of pimple-like papules that turn into small, fluid-filled blisters. The vesicles rupture, forming a crust, and then healing. Over the course of a few days, this process proceeds in two or three waves or "crops" of several hundred vesicles.

The virus becomes dormant after the original infection has passed, remaining in sensory nerve cells. During the infection, the person produces antibodies that usually prevent them from contracting chickenpox again. The virus can reactivate later in life particularly in persons with compromised immune systems, traveling down the nerve cells to the skin and causing shingles.

A mild to intense burning or itching discomfort in a band of skin at the waist, face, or another area is a symptom of shingles. It normally occurs in one region on one side of the body, although it can also happen in many places. A rash with or without vesicles occurs in the same region many days after the pain, itching, or tingling begins. The rash and pain go away in most people after a few weeks, and the virus becomes latent again. A few people may experience pain that lasts for months.

For elderly persons, a shingles vaccination is now available. This vaccine reduces the chances of the virus reactivating as shingles and the severity of the symptoms if it does. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices started recommending a shingles vaccine for all persons aged 60 and up in 2006. The vaccination, however, is not suggested for people with weaker immune systems.

The majority of chickenpox and shingles cases go away on their own. The condition can be more severe and long-lasting in persons with weaker immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS or organ transplant recipients. It may not become latent in some circumstances and spread to the central nervous system.

The consequences of VZV exposure on a developing baby or infant in pregnant women vary depending on when it occurs and whether or not the mother has already been exposed. A primary VZV infection in the first 20 to 30 weeks of pregnancy might cause congenital defects in the unborn infant. The infant may be born with or acquire chickenpox after birth if the illness begins one to three weeks before delivery, though the newborn may be partially protected by the mother's antibodies. VZV infection can be lethal if a newborn is exposed to it at birth and does not have maternal antibody protection.

Lab tests often ordered with a Varicella Zoster IgG Antibody test:

  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Epstein-Barr Virus
  • Lyme Disease
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Rubella
  • HIV
  • Tuberculosis
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C

Conditions where a Varicella Zoster IgG Antibody test is recommended:

  • Shingles
  • HIV
  • Pregnancy
  • Encephalitis

How does my health care provider use a Varicella Zoster IgG Antibody test?

Active cases of chickenpox and shingles, which are caused by the varicella zoster virus, are not usually diagnosed using laboratory tests. The signs and symptoms of these illnesses are frequently used to make a diagnosis. Because most adults have been infected with VZV and children have been vaccinated, there is no need for widespread population screening. In some circumstances, however, testing for VZV or antibodies generated in response to VZV infection may be necessary. It may be used in pregnant women, neonates, individuals awaiting organ transplantation, and those living with HIV/AIDS, for example. Testing can be done to see if someone has developed immunity to VZV after being exposed to it previously, either by infection or vaccination.

What do my Varicella Zoster test results mean?

Detection of IgG antibodies are used to determine whether or not a person has experienced previous infection or received vaccination for Varicella Zoster Virus.

We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical healthcare professional for proper interpretation of your results.


Varicella-Zoster Virus (VZV) causes chicken pox and when reactivated, potentially decades later, causes shingles. Twenty percent of adults will develop shingles, a rash or blister of the skin that may cause severe pain.


Did you know that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimated that there were 572,000 new cases of genital herpes in the United States in a single year?

That's right. It's an incredibly common disease. But did you also know that most Americans who are infected aren't even aware of it? The CDC estimated that 87.4% of people in the 14–49 age range with the disease haven't been diagnosed!

Herpes is highly contagious and potentially dangerous, so don't stay in the dark about it. Keep reading to learn more about the symptoms of herpes and the different herpes tests that can be used to diagnose it.

About Herpes

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) produces a lifelong viral infection in humans. Both of its subtypes are highly infectious and transmissible. 

The first subtype, HSV-1, can cause infections of both the mouth and the genitalia. However, it is the primary cause of cold sores around the mouth (known in medical terminology as "herpes labialis"). These painful lesions can also affect the nasal passages and eyes.

HSV-2 is the main culprit behind genital herpes, outbreaks of which also cause blisters to erupt on or around the genitals, rectum, or mouth. During the first outbreak, which can occur from 2–12 days after exposure to the virus, these symptoms tend to be severe. The vesicles that appear break and leave behind painful ulcers that can take from two to four weeks to heal.

After this "first outbreak" episode, HSV remains in the body by invading the nerve cells, allowing it to hide from the immune system. There, it lies dormant until it reactivates, which happens sporadically. Once active, the virus uses the nerve's axon like a highway to travel to the skin, where it can begin replicating and shedding all over again.

HSV's ability to lie dormant and hidden from the immune system is one of the reasons it so often evades clinical diagnosis. Its resemblance to other skin conditions upon subsequent outbreaks, which are much milder than the initial one, are some more reasons why diagnosing genital herpes can be so difficult.

On rare occasions, both HSV subtypes can lead to aseptic meningitis.

Prevalence and Risk Factors

In the United States, the infection rate of HSV-1 is estimated at 47.8%, while that of HSV-2 is estimated at 11.9%. And although genital herpes is mainly caused by HSV-2, its infection rate is actually higher than that of HSV-2 itself. That's because HSV-1 can also cause genital herpes.

Age is not a significant risk factor. HSV can infect anyone at any age. Even a newborn can contract the disease from their infected mother during pregnancy, delivery, or the postpartum period. The primary risk factor, in any case, is coming into contact with a herpes infection.

HSV-2 was found to have been more prevalent among women (15.9%) than men (8.2%) during studies carried out from 2015–2016. This may be due to the fact that genital infections are transmitted more easily from men to women than vice versa during sexual intercourse.

Thus, an abbreviated list of risk factors for contracting genital herpes would include:

  • Having unprotected sex
  • Having multiple sexual partners
  • Having another sexually transmitted infection
  • Being female
  • Being immunocompromised at all

HSV-2 is also found more often among non-Hispanic blacks than non-Hispanic whites (34.6% versus 8.1%, respectively), and this disparity is present even among individuals with similar average numbers of sexual partners. 

Signs or Symptoms

The following are some warning signs of herpes infection.

  • Watery, blistering sores around the mouth or genitals
  • Painful urination
  • Itchy skin
  • Flu-like symptoms 
    • Headache 
    • Fever
    • Swollen lymph nodes
    • Fatigue
    • Decreased appetite
  • Herpes keratitis
    • Eye pain
    • Discharge
    • Redness
    • The feeling of a foreign substance in the eye

Bear in mind that an infected person is only more contagious when their infection is active. They can still spread the virus during periods of remission!

Laboratory Tests for Herpes

Anyone displaying the signs and symptoms outlined above (or with a sexual partner infected with HSV) should consider herpes testing so that it can be detected, officially diagnosed, and treated.

There are a variety of herpes tests available, and the best one depends on the patient's circumstances. Herpes testing does involve having blood drawn, though, so it cannot be done at home with a kit. Blood needs to be drawn by a qualified phlebotomist.

Serologic testing can be performed to identify past or recent exposure to HSV. However, it cannot tell precisely when exposure occurred, nor can it determine the infection site. The most common type of serologic test is the immunoglobulin G test, which can be targeted to either one or both subtypes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a cure for herpes?

Antiviral therapy has been developed that can suppress the virus's activity, but no outright cure for either HSV-1 or HSV-2 has been found.

What kind of medication will I need to take to manage my herpes?

Antiviral drugs like acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir), and valacyclovir (Valtrex) can be taken to prevent or shorten herpes outbreaks, making it less likely to infect others.

Are there only two subtypes of herpes?

No. In fact, there are six others, and they form the taxonomic family known as Herpesviridae.

Order Your Herpes Test With Ulta Lab Tests

Blood work needs to be done for herpes tests, and that can be expensive and difficult. But at Ulta Lab Tests, we've done all we can to make the process affordable and convenient.

We offer tests that are accurate and reliable, so you can make informed decisions about your health. The confidential results of your herpes simplex antibody IgM or IgG test will be with you within 24–48 hours.

You won't need insurance or a referral, and the doctor's order will be included in the price. And your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed!

Take control of your health with Ulta Lab Tests today!