Herpes False Positives: The Accuracy of Herpes Tests


Worried you have been handed a herpes false positive? Is there a small chance of being handed a false positive herpes test result or are these supposedly fail-safe tests always accurate? If recent test results confirm you are carrying the herpes simplex virus, you may need to be reassured that the current herpes blood tests are reliable. (Note: We have more thorough information in our article on herpes misdiagnosis.)

herpes false positive test results accuracy

Herpes False Positive Test Results

There are numerous tests that can diagnose herpes of the genitalia but it is not unknown to be given a herpes false positive test result. So, let’s take a closer look at some of the tests used to diagnose genital herpes and the overall effectiveness of these diagnostic tests.

The Western Blot Test for Genital Herpes

This test is considered to be one of the most effective ways of diagnosing genital herpes, and it is thought that the test has great accuracy results. However, cost, time and availability are a major issue and this may make people turn to other types of herpes screening programs. Never the less, many physicians are willing to refer patients for a Western Blot test if they suspect an outbreak of genital herpes.

The HerpeSelect Test

This test comprises of two parts. Patients undergo the herpes immunoblot test and the genital herpes Elisa IgG test. The blood samples are analyzed at a laboratory, hence, the patient may have to wait for the test results. Both tests offer highly accurate results and as a rule, they will detect both variations of the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1 and HSV-2). Recent studies show that herpes false positive results are unlikely when this type of test is used.

The SureVue HSV-2 Test (Biokit HSV-2)

Those who are unsure about the results of their herpes test, or anyone who feels they have received herpes false positive test results could request this form of herpes testing. Patients will be required to give a small blood sample, which is analyzed in minutes; however, the test is only capable of detecting HSV-2. This is an easy and inexpensive way of testing for the herpes simplex virus but the results may not be totally conclusive.

The PCR Blood Test (Polymerase Chain Reaction)

If you feel that a test for genital herpes has rendered false positive herpes test results you will need to find a test that provides a conclusive diagnosis. PCR blood tests are designed to detect genital herpes whether there are visible symptoms or not. The PCR test locates the DNA of the herpes virus; hence, this common way of testing for the herpes simplex virus offers highly accurate results.

The Tzanck Smear (Cytology)

The Tzanck is a rather outdated test, which is occasionally used to diagnose herpes genitalis. A number of scrapings are removed from the genital lesions and examined under the microscope. The medical profession no longer relies on this type of test to give wholly accurate results because the test is unable to determine the difference between HSV-1 and HSV-2.

The Accuracy of Herpes Blood Tests

If you have recently been tested for genital herpes, you will be hoping for an accurate test result, but the accuracy of any test depends on numerous factors. Certain blood tests for herpes simplex virus are more conclusive than others and as mentioned above, some tests are not designed to locate type-specific herpes. It is relatively common to get a false positive herpes test result, as the duration between contracting the herpes virus and undergoing the herpes simplex test can impact the test results. It is interesting to note that a high percentage of the population is infected with HSV-1, so it is by no means uncommon to get a herpes false positive result.

Requesting a Genital Herpes Virus Test

Visit a physician and ask for a type-specific blood test for herpes of the genital area. There are many herpes testing options but you are unlikely to have a false positive herpes test if you undergo one of the latest type-specific serological tests. A serological test for HSV can determine the difference between HSV-1 and HSV-2.

Anyone who fears they have received a herpes false positive test result may be exploring various other herpes testing options. Many experts agree that the molecular tests are best for diagnosing genital infections caused by the herpes simplex virus. Culture tests fail to detect the virus in many patients whereas the molecular test appears to confirm and clearly identify whether the person has HSV-1 or HSV-2.

Naturally, anyone who has been diagnosed with an HSV infection will be concerned, but it is important to bear in mind that there are two versions of the herpes virus and type two is responsible for an outbreak of genital herpes. If you feel that you have been handed false positive herpes test results, you should make further appointments with your physician. Everyone must be made aware that it is not uncommon to get a herpes false positive test result that will inevitably unnerve and unsettle you.