How is it used?
HSV testing is used to detect the presence of the herpes simplex virus (HSV) in those who have genital sores or encephalitis and in newborns suspected of having neonatal herpes, a rare but serious condition in which herpes is contracted during vaginal birth.
When is it ordered?
HSV testing is ordered primarily when someone is being screened for a previous exposure to HSV.
A doctor may also order an HSV antibody test if someone has another STD and is at risk for the infection. Risk factors include having multiple sex partners, having a sex partner with herpes, being infected with HIV, or being at risk for HIV because the person is a man who has sex with men.
What does the test result mean?
HSV-1 or HSV-2 IgG antibodies indicate a previous infection. Negative HSV antibody results mean that it is unlikely that the person has been exposed to HSV or that the body has not had time to begin producing HSV antibodies. This is why people who may have been exposed to the virus, but do not have symptoms, should wait a few months before getting tested.
Is there a charge for the test?
This test is largely not covered by the provincial health insurance plans, but it may be covered by patient’s extended health insurance plan. Contact us to find out about the current fee for the test.
Is there anything else I should know?
The most serious, or life-threatening, HSV infections can occur in newborns who are infected during birth and in immunocompromised individuals. The lesions tend to be more extensive and persist longer than in individuals who have healthy immune systems.
Herpes can make people more susceptible to HIV infection. Likewise, it can make HIV-infected individuals more infectious. Infection with HSV can also increase HIV viral load. HSV-2 infection is a significant opportunistic infection in HIV-infected individuals; up to 90% of HIV-infected individuals are co-infected with HSV-2.
HSV, in combination with human papilloma virus (HPV) infection, has been associated with a higher risk of developing cervical cancer.