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Most of these people, however, don’t have obvious symptoms and wouldn’t know they were carriers without blood tests. The kind of test used to diagnose Lauren, an Ig M test, has long been rejected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention but is still used by some clinicians.
Meanwhile, the CDC and the US Preventive Services Task Force concur that the most widely available herpes test, called Herpe Select, should not be used to screen asymptomatic people because of its high risk of false positives: Up to 1 in 2 positive tests could be false, according to the USPSTF’s most recent guidelines.
Rick Pesano, the medical director for infectious disease at Quest, believes that with more awareness, the test could stand in for the Western blot.
But the test was not mentioned in the USPSTF guidelines because it still has not been evaluated in asymptomatic individuals, according to Cindy Feltner, associate director of the RTI-UNC Evidence-based Practice Center, who helped prepare the science review for USPSTF. That is where we are stuck at this point,” said Johnston.
In the six months that passed between the tests, the mistake led her to keep a romance at bay and left her anxiously patrolling her health.“Every tingle I would get in my leg or any kind of itch down there would just set me off,” sending her into a new flurry of research, she said.
“And that was just to try to calm my own anxiety, but it would only really make it worse.” Genital herpes, predominantly caused by herpes simplex virus type 2, is a sexually transmitted disease that’s very common — 1 in 6 people aged 14 to 49 in the United States have HSV-2, and this number goes up with age.
So patients often discovered the option not through their doctors, but through searching the web and reading online herpes forums.
That was the experience of Bryan, a 40-year-old man who lives in Indiana, who wrongly believed he had herpes for about two months in 2011.
Until the 2015 update, CDC herpes testing guidelines had no mention of confirmatory testing for low-positive results, said Johnston.A 2005 study published in the journal Bio Med Central Infectious Disease found that index values above 3.5 yielded over 90 percent accuracy — but scores between 1.1 and 3.5 had around a 50 percent chance of being wrong.What’s more, scores falling just above the 1.1 cutoff had an almost 90 percent chance of being wrong.The experience of YT, a 33-year-old mom who has suffered from frequent herpes symptoms over the last year, shows another side of the testing breakdown.She believes she was given HSV by a partner who didn’t realize herpes wasn’t included in his previous STD tests, she told STAT.