If you have noticed symptoms that could be caused by the herpes virus you should visit your healthcare provider as soon as possible, while symptoms are still present. Your healthcare provider will examine your condition and should take a swab or sample of the infected tissue. This can be analyzed for herpes.
There are several tests that are used to diagnose herpes, some are more accurate then others. Methods of testing include diagnosis by:
. Cell Culture Test
. PCR (Polymerase chain reaction blood test)
. Antigen Test
. Type Specific Serologic Test
Cell culture or PCR test may give a false-negative result if the sores have begun healing or if you are recently infected. It takes several weeks for HSV antibodies to develop and it usually takes two weeks to three months after exposure to herpes for antibodies to appear in the blood. A false-negative test shows you don't have the condition when in fact you do. False-positive test results are possible, too. If you test positive, but your risk for getting the virus is low, you may need to be tested again.
Cell Culture Test
A sample is taken from the sore(s) and tested to see if the herpes virus is present. The test you should request is a specific virus culture or assay for herpes virus.
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) Test
PCR tests find the genetic material (DNA) of the HSV virus. This test can distinguish between HSV-1 and HSV-2. A PCR test can be done on cells or fluid from a lesion or on blood or on other body fluids.
This test finds markers or antigens from cells smeared on a microscope slide. The antigens are on the surface of the cells infected with the herpes virus.
Type-Specific Serologic Antibody Test
Type-specific serologic tests distinguish between HSV-2 and HSV-1. The type-specific tests are not perfect. It takes about three to six weeks for individuals to develop detectable antibodies for herpes simplex. These tests detect Immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies directed against the cell wall protein specific for HSV-1 or HSV-2. IgG is found in all body fluids and protects against bacterial and viral infections. One of the most common brands of type-specific serology is the HerpesSelect brand.