Unfortunately, the commercial tests available to your health care provider
can be very confusing. Most herpes antibody (blood) tests are not truly
type specific. Most antibody tests cannot accurately tell the difference
between past infection with type 1 versus type 2.
To further confuse things, even some widely used tests that are commonly
called "type specific" are not accurately type-specific.
Most commercial type specific tests are very poor at accurately
differentiating antibody against herpes simplex virus type 1 from antibody
against herpes simplex type 2. Many of these inaccurate tests are
commercially available and they may be easily accessible to your doctor.
Inaccurate type specific or non type-specific blood tests are still useful
in some settings. For example, during a first episode, an antibody test
may be used, in conjunction with viral culture and typing, to determine
whether that culture proven episode is a true primary or a non primary.
In this case, the blood test is not used to diagnose genital herpes but
whether it's a true primary; the culture and typing of a lesion specimen
was used to make the diagnosis of genital herpes.
What Affects the Test
* A sample for a viral culture must be kept moist and cold to produce
* Medications used to treat certain viral infections, such as acyclovir,
famciclovir, ganciclovir, or valacyclovir may interfere with the test
* Rough handling, contamination, or inadequate refrigeration of the blood
sample can cause inaccurate antibody test results.