Genital Herpes Clinic - Friday, March 23, 2018

Pros and Cons of a Herpes Blood Test

August 19, 2010 by  
Filed under Genital Herpes Resource

A PCR herpes test is conducted when someone is having herpes outbreaks. Generally, there are two approaches to diagnosing herpes, either through laboratory herpes tests or through herpes physical examination and herpes history. In a laboratory herpes test, the herpes viruses are detected directly from infected skin lesions by herpes. A swab is rubbed over the sore area infected by herpes. Then it is sent for one of several swab herpes tests called culture, FA, or PCR test. Most governments encourages laboratory herpes test to be utilized to establish the herpes diagnosis. Herpes physical examination and herpes history on the other hand are the least reliable means of diagnosing herpes.

Testing for the herpes virus directly from the skin is useful if genital herpes symptoms are present during the time while the doctor is examining the genital area. Diagnosing herpes by just looking at a lesion or sore does not give accurate herpes diagnosis because many other infections or irritations can look just like herpes. As such, and because Herpes Simplex Virus is a chronic disease, confirming the diagnosis of herpes with a laboratory herpes test is recommended by almost all medical authorities.

Since PCR herpes test is more sensitive than herpes culture or cytology, the herpes virus can be detected for a longer period both before and after herpes outbreaks. The false negative rate of culture detection starts to rise dramatically 48 to 72 hours after herpes outbreaks. Furthermore, Herpes cultures require a separate collection that must be refrigerated. PCR herpes tests are performed directly from the vials, and can be kept at room temperature.
PCR herpes testing is the most accurate method for diagnosing herpes. PCR techniques make many copies of the viral genetic material either DNA or RNA in a short time so that even tiny amounts of herpes virus are sufficient for a positive test. This enables PCR herpes test to accurately and reliably diagnose herpes. For the PCR herpes test only a very short time period is needed, about 4 hours, once the individual has arrived for a herpes test. PCR herpes tests can also tell if herpes SV-1 or herpes SV-2 is present. PCR is the only herpes test sensitive enough to find herpes in a lesion that does not contain much herpes virus. This method provides a 23% increase in sensitivity and 100% specificity at correlation to viral culture. It can be done on cells or fluid from a sore or on blood or on other fluid such as the person’s spinal fluid. The PCR test is not commonly done on the skin lesions themselves but it is best for testing spinal fluid.

A research study has been made to show the accuracy of the PCR herpes test. Of over 36,000 individual who were tested by both herpes culture and PCR herpes test, 3377 were positive by PCR herpes test but negative by herpes culture. A lot of the individuals that were positive only by PCR herpes test were collected in warmer summer months. Warm transport conditions can harm the herpes virus so that it can’t infect herpes culture cells but PCR herpes tests are unaffected. This is another reason PCR herpes test is more accurate than herpes viral culture test.

Despite the appealing advantages of PCR herpes testing, it is not widely available and more expensive than herpes culture or FA herpes tests. PCR is most likely to be more accurate than other herpes tests. The chance of missing herpes in a lesion by herpes culture or FA herpes test is much higher than with PCR. If PCR herpes test is not affordable or available to you, a type specific serology herpes blood test is good alternative to see if you have been infected with herpes SV-1 or herpes SV-2.
Individual who think they have herpes, should consider having a PCR herpes test if available to have an accurate test.


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