Herpes and HIV Testing

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Did you know that many STD’s aren’t routinely tested for at your doctor or office visit? Most test for STD’s are done at your request or if you’re pregnant. A pregnant woman with an STD such as Herpes or HIV is at risk of transferring the virus to her unborn baby resulting in severe illness or death. Because of the rising epidemic of HIV infected individuals and herpes cases today, it is very important to get tested. This is especially so because Herpes and HIV are incurable; with HIV being potentially fatal. People fear getting tested but once you know your status it can empower you to take better care of yourself and be more responsible.

Let’s start with testing done for Herpes. If you have sores on your genitals, a sample can be taken and cultured. The virus multiplies and can be seen under a microscope. Another test involves a solution which contains antibodies that is added to the sample. The virus multiplies and glows when viewed under a special microscope. The only drawback with this type of testing is that the virus is detected only in it’s active form. These test can also tell you what type of herpes you have and how you were infected. HSV 1 can be transmitted to the genitals through oral sex and HSV 2 can be transmitted through intercourse or anal sex.

As stated above, the culture detects the herpes virus in it’s active form. False negative results are possible if the sores have begun healing or if this isn’t your first outbreak. Blood test for herpes are done when there are no symptoms and are more accurate. However, if you are newly infected it may not show up for several weeks since it takes time for antibodies to the virus to show up in the blood. That is why if you suspect you may be infected you should have a repeat test several weeks after the first one.

The HIV test most commonly used in the US is the EIA or enzyme immunoassay formerly known as (Elisa). This test on blood samples looks for antibodies(http:en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antibodies) to the HIV virus. A positive EIA must be confirmed with a Western Blot(http:en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_blot)on the same sample. HIV test using oral fluids are obtained from the mouth with a special device. Saliva isn’t used for testing but oral fluids found in the mouth. The test is similar to the EIA test done on blood. If the test is positive then a Western Blot is done on the same oral sample to confirm the results.

There are rapid HIV screening test but if reactive must also be confirmed by the Western Blot. Home testing kits are popular since being licensed in 1997, but only one has been approved by the FDA. The Home Access HIV 1 Test System is a home collection kit. The kit has instructions on how to obtain a sample, mailing it and how to obtain your results. There are supportive services available throughout this process.

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