Doing a home herpes blood test may not be the best route to take, especially if it’s for HSV-1. If you’re not displaying symptoms don’t get tested, they said. Let me explain.
Herpes is a virus that causes cold sores on your lips or genitals. There are two forms of the herpes simplex virus, HSV-1 and HSV-2.
HSV-1 is more commonly known as oral herpes and HSV-2 is known as genital herpes. Both of these viruses can actually live in the mouth or the genitals. So someone with oral herpes can perform oral sex on you and you can get HSV-1 on your genitals, and vice versa (1).
If you have a cold sore, you should test for herpes. At the very least, consult with your doctor about it.
Herpes is way more common than the stigma would lead you to believe. Johns Hopkins estimates that 90% of adults will be exposed to herpes by the age of 50 (2). Since it’s so common, shouldn’t we all get tested for herpes? Not so fast!
There are two schools of thought on this issue and I’m not sure where I stand just yet. I just started researching STDs heavily after displaying what I think might be chlamydia symptoms. Here are the two positions:
In my opinion, this seems to be a very popular stance. HSV-1, which is predominately oral, is so common that there is a good chance you might have it. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 67% of people worldwide have HSV-1 (3). That means more than two out of three people have HSV-1. It’s about as common as acne.
Since it’s so common and you may never show symptoms of HSV-1, then why should you get tested? Getting tested and finding out that you have HSV-1 is going to change your self image and you’ll be stigmatized. It’s so common that the stigma doesn’t make any sense, nonetheless it’s alive and real.
So instead of shattering people’s identity, telling them they have a virus that they may never show symptoms of, let them live in peace.
That’s position A and I get it to an extent, but here’s the kicker. Just because you don’t display symptoms and don’t know you have herpes, it doesn’t mean you can’t give it to someone else. Even without symptoms, it’s still contagious.
And that’s where position B comes to play.
The other school of thought is, everyone should know their status so they can be sexually responsible. If you have HSV-1 and know it, you’re much less likely to kiss my baby on the cheek, possibly giving my baby herpes. A lot of people actually get herpes that way since the virus can shed even though there aren’t any active cold sores. It’s called asymptomatic shedding.
Asymptomatic shedding is when the herpes virus reproduces and sheds its offspring even though you won’t see any cold sores or any other symptoms. This shedding process is happening 20% to 40% of the time in newly infected people, then it slows to 5% to 20% of the time for people who have been infected for more than six months (4).
So that person with HSV-1 that may never display symptoms their whole life can still give it to you, and you might start getting cold sores on your lip. If you start getting cold sores, it’s going to change your identity because of the stigma. So that person who didn’t get tested to avoid being wrongly stigmatized, can still greatly alter other people’s lives.
Both of these positions make great points and I haven’t developed my own stance yet. I think it would be great to help educate people on herpes to remove the stigma. The constant media barrage of herpes insults and jokes is just perpetuating the stigma. But I guess people will do anything to get a laugh and make a dollar.
“What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas…except for herpes. That sh*t’ll come back with you.” – The Hangover
And for clarity’s sake, experts across the board recommend for you to get a herpes test kit done if you are displaying any symptoms.
The most common method of testing for herpes is via blood test. To take a herpes blood test, you usually just have to prick your finger and provide 1-2 drops of blood. It’s quick and easy.
You can do this test at a medical clinic or out of the comfort of your home. If you decide to do a herpes home test, be careful not to get your blood all around the house. If some blood does end up on the table, clean it up right after doing your test.
Since testing for HSV-1 without symptoms is so controversial, most home kits are for HSV-2. HSV-2 is much less common than HSV-1 and it’s generally accepted as good to know your status.
Herpes is easily spread through kissing or any form of sexual intercourse. Condoms reduce the risk of transmission, but you can definitely still contract herpes with a condom.
Since herpes is spread from skin to skin contact, you can wear a condom but can still contract herpes if the infect area is around the genitals. Also, a condom will not reduce the risk of getting oral herpes from kissing. Oral sex is also another easy way that herpes can spread. It’s highly contagious and has no problems spreading.