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Herpes Testing London
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Herpes Testing in London

At STD Check London, our clinic is specialised in offering convenient, fast and discrete herpes testing. 

With availability for same day appointments including evenings and weekends, STD Check London offers a premium service where you can speak to our doctor for diagnosis and advice on necessary treatment options prior to undergoing testing. There are various testing options available, including swabs, urine tests or blood tests. 

About Herpes Simplex

Herpes is a viral infection that occurs due to herpes simplex virus or HSV. There are two types of herpes – HSV1 and HSV2. Herpes typically affects mucous membranes, so typical infection sites include buttocks, thighs, genital area and around the mouth. Herpes is usually transmitted via sexual contact so is considered to be a sexually transmitted infection. Unlike Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia, there is no cure for herpes, however the symptoms can be managed and breakouts suppressed through the use of anti-virals. If you have Herpes and need some help in management, you can always see one of the doctors here at STD Check London.

Symptoms of herpes

  • Mostly, people have a primary episode of herpes within 7 to 14 days after contracting the virus. This is usually the most severe phase and can include a fever, painful blisters, generalised pain, discomfort or pain when passing urine, particularly for women. Women might also suffer from abnormal vaginal discharge.
  • Some people might contract the herpes virus but don’t show any symptoms. In this case, the primary episode can be months or even years after the infection. A primary episode as such may not necessarily denote a recent infection.
  • Recurrent episodes are typically less severe with typical symptoms of watery blisters and a tingling sensation.
  • Cold sores usually take place due to herpes virus around your mouth.
  • Both HSV1 and HSV2 might affect around the mouth and genital area, however HSV1 is usually found in people who have genital symptoms.

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Spread of genital herpes

Herpes can be transmitted from one partner to the other due to:

  • skin-to-skin contact
  • anal, oral or vaginal sex without using condoms
  • sharing of sex toys
  • sharing of needles or infected tattoo equipment
  • congenital herpes can be passed to an infant

Most people recognise an infection when symptoms appear - typically blisters are appear on the skin, but as discussed above, these symptoms may not be present just after the initial contraction of the virus.

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 or 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, however it is also possible to contract herpes even if your partner fails to show any symptoms.

The best way to prevent yourself from contracting herpes is to cease sexual activity with anybody currently showing symptoms of herpes infection. Polyurethane or latex condoms may lessen the risk of transmission, but condoms cannot cover the entire infected area. Thus, genital HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be contracted even if you use a condom.

Get tested for genital herpes

If you suspect any of the symptoms of HSV 1 or HSV 2, then our doctor will need to detect if you have contracted the Herpes Simplex virus. In the absence of any obvious symptoms, a blood test will help in a definitive diagnosis.

Swab testing

Diagnosing herpes can be via a nucleic acid amplication test (NAT) or a viral culture test of a swab.

A viral culture test enables the virus to develop in lab setting and NAT tests should show positive results if the virus is present in the sample taken.

Herpes Test

Screening for asymptomatic herpes infections is performed via a blood test. The blood test detects antibodies from the Herpes virus.

The body creates antibodies when fighting for a herpes infection, and it is these antibodies which are measured in a herpes blood test. Typically the body requires around two weeks to produce antibodies and so the presence and levels of antibodies can reveal if you have a herpes infection, either in the past or recently.

In the case of re-infection, antibody tests won’t be of much help as antibodies remain in the blood when virus becomes dormant.

Two types of herpes blood tests are the following:

  • Type-specific herpes blood tests– this will detect if there are antibodies against herpes virus and if they are against HSV-1 or HSV-2.
  • General herpes blood tests– this looks for antibodies against any kind of herpes and they won’t specify if the antibodies are related to HSV-1 or HSV-2.

Different types of blood tests are able to identify viral proteins with pros and cons for each of them. It might be quite difficult to detect the incubation period of HSV-1, however the incubation period of HSV-2 between contraction and a positive blood test is discussed below:

  • HerpeSelect ELISA: typically 3 weeks
  • Western blot: within 1 to 3 months
  • Kalon ELISA: after 120 days
  • Focus ELISA: usually after 21 days

It will take somewhere around two weeks for the symptoms to appear after getting infected with HSV-1 or HSV-2. If there are lesions that are swab tested, then it is a good idea to wait for one or two months before re-testing for HSV-2 after probable exposure as your body will require some time to form antibodies that can be detected in the blood.

Want to get tested for herpes infection near you?

Visit STD Check London today and get it done from our experts!