What is a Herpes (HSV) Test?

Herpes is a skin ailment caused by the HSV herpes simplex virus. HSV produces painful blisters or ulcers all over the body. HSV is classified into two types:

  • HSV-1 is a virus that produces blisters or cold sores around the mouth (oral herpes)
  • HSV-2, which typically causes genital blisters or sores (genital herpes).

Herpes is transmitted by direct touch with sores. HSV-2 is often transmitted through vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse. Herpes may spread even when there are no apparent blisters.

Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 infections are recurrent. It implies that once your first outbreak of sores has cleared up, you may experience another epidemic in the future. Nonetheless, the intensity and frequency of epidemics tend to decrease with time. Although oral and genital herpes can be painful, the viruses seldom cause serious health concerns.

HSV can infect other regions of the body, including the brain and spinal cord, in rare situations. Herpes can also be harmful to a newborn. During labor, a herpes-infected woman might spread the illness to her infant. A herpes infection can be fatal to a child.

Alternative names: herpes culture, herpes simplex viral culture, HSV-1 antibodies, HSV-2 antibodies, HSV DNA

What are the uses of an HSV test?

An HSV test may be used to:

  • Determine whether HSV causes mouth sores or genital sores.
  • Determine the presence of an HSV infection in a pregnant woman.
  • Determine whether a newborn is infected with HSV.

What is the need of an HSV test?

The test is required when there are HSV symptoms in patients who do not have HSV symptoms; an HSV test may be required if:

  • You have herpes symptoms, such as blisters or sores on your genitals or other body parts.
  • Your sexual partner is infected with herpes.
  • You're pregnant and have had a past herpes infection or signs of genital herpes. If you test positive during pregnancy for HSV, your baby may also require testing.

HSV-2 may raise your chances of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STDs). If you have specific risk factors for STDs, you may require a test. You may be more vulnerable if you:

  • Having several sexual partners.
  • Have a partner who has HIV or another STD.

HSV can cause encephalitis or meningitis, which are life-threatening infections of the brain and spinal cord, in rare situations. If you have signs of a brain or spinal cord issue, you may require an HSV test. These are some indications:

What happens during an HSV test?

HSV testing is often performed through swabs, blood, or lumbar puncture. The sort of test you receive will be determined on your symptoms and medical history.

  • A swab test involves a healthcare worker collecting fluid and cells from herpes sore using a swab.
  • A blood test involves a health care provider drawing a small amount of blood from a vein and a little quantity of blood will be collected in a test tube or vial. When the needle goes in or out, you may feel a slight sting.
  • A lumbar puncture, also called a spinal tap, is only performed if your doctor suspects you have a brain or spinal cord infection. Following a spinal tap:
    • You will be instructed to lie on your side on an examination table.
    • A medical professional will clean your back and inject an anesthetic into your skin to keep you comfortable during the process. Before this injection, your physician may apply numbing cream to your back.
    • Your physician will inject a small, hollow needle between two vertebrae in your lower spine after the region on your back is entirely numb.
    • A tiny volume of CSF fluid will be withdrawn for examination by your physician. This will take around five minutes.
    • After the treatment, your physician may instruct you to rest on your back for an hour or two. This might prevent you from getting a headache.

How to do to prepare for the test?

A swab test or a blood test requires no extra preparation. Before a lumbar puncture, you might be asked to empty your bladder and bowels.

Is there any risk in the test?

There are no known risks associated with a swab test.

You may have discomfort or tenderness in your back where the needle was put if you had a lumbar puncture. You might get a headache after the treatment.

What do the findings imply?

Your HSV test results will be either negative, commonly known as normal, or positive, also known as abnormal.


The negative result means herpes virus was not found. Even if your findings were normal, sometimes you might still be infected with HSV. It is possible that the virus was not present in sufficient quantity in the sample to be identified. If you still have herpes symptoms, you may need to get tested again.


The positive result means HSV was discovered in your sample. It might indicate that you have an ongoing infection (now have sores) or have been sick in the past (you have no sores).

Speak with your doctor if you test positive for HSV. Your clinician may recommend a medication to assist you to lessen the intensity and number of breakouts.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is an HSV test?

An HSV test is a medical test used to diagnose a herpes infection. The test involves taking a little sample of fluid or tissue from a blister or sore and testing it for the presence of the herpes simplex virus.

2. How is an HSV test performed?

There are several types of HSV tests available, including PCR tests, viral culture tests, and blood tests. The specific method used may vary depending on the individual and the circumstances of the test.

3. Is an HSV test painful?

The HSV test may involve discomfort or pain, particularly if a sample is taken from a blister or sore. However, the pain is usually mild and temporary.

4. Is there any risk or side effects of an HSV test?

The risks and side effects of an HSV test are very rare.

5. How long does it take to get the results of an HSV test?

The total time it takes to get the results of an HSV test may vary depending on the specific method used and the laboratory performing the test. In some cases, results may be available within a few days, while in others, it may take longer.

6. Can an HSV test be false negative or false positive?

Yes, there is a small risk of false negative or false positive results with an HSV test. Factors that can affect the test accuracy include the timing of the sample collection, the location and type of the sample, and the specific method used.

7. Can HSV be detected by a blood test?

If a patient has no blisters or sores, a blood test may be used to determine whether they have herpes.

8. What is the cost of the HSV test?

The HSV test costs approximately Rs. 500. However the cost can differ from place to place.

9. Where can I get an HSV test?

If you are looking for an HSV test, then visit Medicover Hospitals.