Herpes simplex testing is performed to identify an acute herpes infection or to detect herpes antibodies, an indication of a previous exposure to herpes. One of the most common viral infections, herpes simplex virus (HSV) exists as two main types, HSV-1 and HSV-2. Both types are contagious and periodically cause small fever blisters (vesicles) that break to form open lesions. HSV-1 primarily causes blisters or "cold sores" around the oral cavity and mouth, while HSV-2 usually causes lesions around the genital area; however, either one can affect the oral or genital area.
The herpes simplex virus can be passed from person to person through skin contact while the sores are open and healing and sometimes asymptomatically when there are no visible sores. HSV-2 is frequently a sexually transmitted disease, but HSV-1 also may be acquired during oral sex and found in the genital area. According to the American Social Health Association and their National Herpes Resource Center, about 50% to 80% of adults in the U.S. have HSV-1 and about 20% have HSV-2. Because symptoms may be mild, 90% of those who have HSV-2 may be unaware that they have been infected.
• Negative: <0.91 ratio
• Equivocal: 0.91-1.09 ratio
• Positive: >1.09 ratio