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What kind of blood test is required for herpes?



Dear Harshit,

Serologic herpes tests (blood test) work by measuring the levels of Herpes simplex antibodies inside your body.

Antibodies are substances produced by your immune system to fight off infections (such as herpes).

Serologic tests detect herpes by looking for antibodies in the blood or serum.

Blood tests can be performed even when there are no symptoms present. If the herpes antibodies are found in the blood, it means that herpes simplex is latent in the body.

Serologic (blood) tests do not require swabbing a lesion, so they can be done long after symptoms have faded.
This method of testing has the advantage that it can be done even when a person has no symptoms, so it is a very effective way to detect an established herpes infection.

Type-specific blood tests are ideal for those who have had a history of genital symptoms but have never had a successful confirmatory test.

The sensitivity (the likelihood of the test correctly diagnosing herpes) and specificity (the probability of a test correctly) determining that a patient does not have herpes of blood tests is better than culture or antigen tests, but there are two important factors to consider:

Timing. If this is the first exposure to herpes, a person may take several weeks to develop the antibodies that blood tests look for.

Conflicting results some blood tests cannot tell the difference between the two types of herpes simplex, HSV-1 and HSV-2 (the cold sore and genital herpes viruses)

For this reason, anyone seeking an accurate diagnosis of their herpes type should request a type-specific test, which can accurately distinguish HSV-2 from HSV-1 antibodies.

People who are getting a type-specific test for genital herpes should ensure that the test they receive detects antibodies to gG2 since there are still blood tests out there which claim to be type-specific but which are not.


A positive blood test simply indicates that the person has been infected with type 1 or type 2 HSV (or both) some time in the past.

A positive blood test does not indicate the site of the infection.

Serology tests do not provide any information about whether symptoms (genital or oral) are due to herpes.

A positive blood test does not tell if the person is infectious at the time of the test.

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