Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the Herpes Simplex (HSV) Virus. It is highly contagious and easily spread between sexual partners through any type of physical contact, not just intercourse. There is no cure for the Herpes Simplex Virus, however the symptoms can be managed and treatment can reduce the viral load, thereby the severity of flare-ups in the future.
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Herpes testing is performed by a blood test or a swab of a suspected lesion. The blood test looks for herpes type 1 antibodies, which are usually produced by the body 2 weeks to 6 months after infection. This is the time period required or antibodies to develop that may be detected by an ELISA test. This incubation period differs from person to person.
Herpes type 2 antibodies occur within 3 weeks to 6 months after the initial infection. During this time, antibodies that develop may be detected through an ELISA test. This period can vary depending on the person suffering from the disease.
Genital Herpes can be transmitted from infected bodily fluids such as semen, saliva, sores, vaginal fluid, blister fluid or herpes lesions. It is usually passed through unprotected anal, oral or vaginal sex and from skin-to-skin contact with the infected partner. The chances of transmitting Genital Herpes (whether HSV-1 or HSV-2) will increase if there are active, open sores or lesions. Also, it is possible to contract herpes if the partner fails to show any symptoms.
However, the spread of Herpes can be prevented or hindered by the use of polyurethane or latex condoms, however barrier protection such as condoms may not cover the entire infected area. Thus, genital HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be contracted even if you use a condom.
At STD Check London, our clinic offers type-specific blood tests for Herpes Type 1 and Herpes Type 2. These tests detect the antibodies to HSV-1 and HSV-2 present in your blood. The virus that causes herpes can usually be detected after the incubation period of 3 weeks for HSV-2. We will also test for (HSV-1 in the blood with Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) test. This test is very sensitive and helps to detect the presence of HSV-1 antibodies.