A positive herpes test means you have the herpes simplex virus. The test has detected IgG and/or IgM antibodies in your system, which the body makes to fight the herpes simplex virus. Thanks to new technology, your positive test will also indicate whether you have herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1), which is associated with cold sores, or herpes simplex type 2 (HSV-2), which is associated with genital outbreaks.
What Should You Do After Receiving a Positive Herpes Test?
A positive herpes test is nothing to stress about. Around half Americans under the age of 20 have HSV-1, so you’re not alone. A positive diagnosis doesn’t mean you’ll start having outbreaks. In fact, many people with positive herpes tests never have an outbreak. If you do, these can be easily managed.
Although there is no cure for herpes, symptoms can be managed by taking antiviral medications. These meds can reduce your outbreak frequency and length along with your risk of passing the virus on to your sexual partners. Condoms can also help reduce the risk of transmitting herpes to your partner(s). While transmission rates are much lower when you’re not experiencing symptoms, you can still pass on the virus.
While there’s no guaranteed way to prevent outbreaks, living a healthy life can reduce their incidence. Try to maintain good physical and mental health to manage your herpes.
Does a Negative Test Mean You Don’t Have Herpes?
It takes time for antibodies to appear in the body, so a negative test doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in the clear. Most people with herpes simplex develop antibodies within three to six weeks. However, it can take as much as 16 weeks or more for detectable antibodies to appear.
If you think you may have been exposed to herpes within the last few months, get retested later to be absolutely sure of your status.