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Herpes Test

Test for active or inactive infections

It is easier to diagnose genital herpes when an infection is still active, so you should seek medical attention as soon as you notice symptoms, ideally within 48 hours of the first blisters appearing.

Herpes is an infection caused by the Herpes Simplex virus (HSV). It causes the appearance of painful blisters on and around the genitals, which develop into sores. The symptoms of genital herpes come and go. The virus remains in the body but is not constantly active (causing symptoms).

Staying Aware

If you have noticed any skin changes or lesions, or if you have had unprotected sex, it is recommended that you get tested. The window period for your body to develop herpes antibodies following infection is 2 weeks to 6 months. If you are worried you have contracted the virus, testing 2 weeks after initial exposure and then again 3 months later can confirm your status.

Procedure

Preparing for test

There is no specific preparation for this test.

During the test

A swab is used to collect a fluid sample from a blister (using a cotton bud), which is then tested. It is also possible to have a blood test for the virus. The viral culture from a swab will give the most accurate positive results. Blood tests are used when someone has no visible symptoms but is concerned that they may have the virus, and check for antibodies to the virus, rather than for the virus itself.

Type of sample taken:

Blood or Swab

Results

We provide the results by phone, email or patients can decide to collect the hard copy of the results themselves at the reception. As a clinic policy we don’t send any positive results via email.

FAQ

Can I get tested even if I do not have symptoms?

Yes, although you will get a more accurate result if you get tested when you are showing symptoms. The test is best done using a swab sample from an active blister or sore. If you do not have symptoms, a blood test can show the presence of herpes antibodies in your blood, which can indicate a current infection.

I have noticed blisters on my genitals. Do I have herpes?

The only way to know for sure is to get tested, preferably whilst you still have the blisters. You may not have genital herpes – other conditions can present with similar symptoms, including shingles (herpes zoster), and syphilis.

Can you pass herpes on to an unborn baby?

Yes. If a mother has a herpes infection, whether active or dormant, this can be passed on congenitally in utero. If the mother has an active outbreak during the time of delivery, the virus can be passed onto the baby while passing through the birth canal.

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Herpes

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Please note that Walk In Clinic is a private medical centre and not an NHS service.