HSV-1 blood test?
October 27, 2013 3:55 PM   Subscribe

If I got a blood test that said I already had HSV-1 antibodies, could I presumably then not worry about getting it from my girlfriend? I poked around on the CDC website, but nothing really jumped out at me as an answer to this.

My girlfriend gets cold sores every eight months or so, and she now has what appears to be an HSV-1 rash on her face. (The urgent care place she went to, not her PCP, gave her a couple weeks of Valtrex to take, anyway.)

Anyway, it's kind of a bummer not to kiss her for a few weeks after symptoms appear (when there's a greater chance of transmission, in my understanding). Has anyone gotten an HSV-1 test to see if they already have it, in a situation like this? We've been dating for two years, so presumably I have it now if I didn't before. But I've never had a cold sore, to my knowledge. It'd be nice to just not care and be able to touch her face and kiss her as soon as she's up for face contact again too, etc., without having to worry about it (aside from then not touching either of our genitals, etc.)

So, are doctors usually willing to do a blood test? (My current sense is docs/nurses think people are overreacting and discourage it?) I just got new health insurance, so I don't yet have a usual place to go. What kind of a place would do this, and I could bill it to my insurance?
posted by zeek321 to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Under sort-of similar circumstances, my partner got a hsv-1 blood test done by his usual PCP. His doctor made a comment or two about the test being unnecessary, but did do it in the end. He had Kaiser insurance, and it was totally covered.

His test was negative, so we haven't changed the way we deal with cold sores. But even if you are positive, you can reinfect different areas of your face, so be careful.
posted by tinymegalo at 4:17 PM on October 27, 2013

Best answer: Yeah, exactly what tinymegalo said. I also wouldn't discount the possibility that if you test positive for HSV-1, the infection site could be your genitals, even if you're never had or noticed an outbreak there. Having an HSV-1 infection elsewhere in your body is somewhat protective against infection elsewhere but not completely. What I'm saying is, if you're going to kiss your girlfriend while she has a cold sore, you should be prepared for the possibility of ending up with a cold sore yourself, even if your blood test is already positive.

The other thing to keep in mind is that your girlfriend's oral/facial infection could easily be HSV-2. I know, I know, crazy times we live in. All things to keep in mind.
posted by telegraph at 4:42 PM on October 27, 2013

I've had HSV tests done before. I had to ask for them specifically because they are not part of the normal battery of say, STI tests that you get done, but they were covered under my (collegiate) health plan like any other type of blood test and my PCP at the university's Health Services did them without too much fussing. (Of course, different plans cover different things.)

One thing you may want to consider is that apparently having oral HSV is somewhat protective against genital HSV. So if you are negative, that might mean you would want to be extra careful about oral sex. But of course this all depends on your particular risk tolerance and how important different sex acts are to you and to your partner, etc.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:38 PM on October 27, 2013

Oh, also, your g/f can take Valtrex prophylactically long-term if she doesn't have any side effects from it - that would also bring down the rate of transmission to you and would cut down on asymptomatic shedding.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:47 PM on October 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've had the blood test even though my doctor discouraged it. My health insurance paid. I tested negative for the anti-bodies. My partner at the time was positive for the anti-bodies, but never had cold sores, so I figured he had fought it off.

I would get the test if I was in your position.
posted by parakeetdog at 1:46 PM on October 28, 2013

I get tested regularly at Any Lab Test Now, who do HSV tests both individually and as part of their STI-testing bundle. If they're in your area, they may be useful - you don't have to "convince" them to do the test, just go in and ask for it.

(I'm happy to pay out of pocket; I don't think they take insurance.)
posted by Someone Else's Story at 10:24 PM on October 28, 2013

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