Herpes Simplex Virus Antibody
Does this test have other names?
HSV-1 antibodies, HSV-2 antibodies
What is this test?
The herpes simplex virus antibodies test is a blood test that screens for the herpes
simplex virus (HSV). Culturing a sample from an active outbreak of HSV is the best
method to diagnose a current infection. But the herpes simplex virus antibodies test
can help identify the recurrence of a previous infection.
Why do I need this test?
You may need this test if you suspect that you have herpes, but do not have an active
You may also have this test if you have HIV, or are pregnant or hope to become pregnant.
The herpes simplex virus antibodies test screens for current or previous HSV infections.
In some cases, the herpes simplex virus antibodies test can be used to diagnose an
active HSV infection. But more often, a herpes culture is used.
The antibodies test is valuable because many initial herpes infections show no symptoms.
If symptoms do happen, they can include tenderness, as well as pain or burning at
the site of the infection. This usually happens before the outbreak of sores. You
may also have headache, fever, achiness, or pain.
What other tests might I have along with this test?
If you have an active herpes infection, you may also need a physical exam so your
healthcare provider can visually inspect the sores. Your healthcare provider may collect
a sample from the sores to culture in a lab.
What do my test results mean?
Test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, the method used
for the test, and other things. Your test results may not mean you have a problem.
Ask your healthcare provider what your test results mean for you.
If your test result is positive, it can mean that you have an active herpes infection
without symptoms. It can also mean that you had an HSV infection in the past. The
antibody blood test is not as reliable as culturing a sample from a herpes sore. But
in a herpes infection without symptoms, it can be a useful method for finding out
if you have an infection.
How is this test done?
The test is done with a blood sample. A needle is used to draw blood from a vein in
your arm or hand.
Does this test pose any risks?
Having a blood test with a needle carries some risks. These include bleeding, infection,
bruising, and feeling lightheaded. When the needle pricks your arm or hand, you may
feel a slight sting or pain. Afterward, the site may be sore.
What might affect my test results?
An antibody test for HSV is not as reliable as culturing a sample from an active herpes
outbreak because the results are not always easy to interpret. A positive test result
can mean you have an active infection, or simply that you were exposed to the virus
at some point in the past.
How do I get ready for this test?
You don't need to prepare for this test. Be sure your healthcare provider knows about
all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines
that don't need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.