Diagnosis of genital herpes

The diagnosis of genital herpes is generally made from history and physical examination. Special investigations are used to confirm the diagnosis because many sexually transmitted diseases may present similarly.

  • Medical History
  • The medical history will include a history of what symptoms are present and when they started. A sexual history is also important and the doctor should determine if any risky sexual behaviour is present. If a diagnosis of a sexually transmitted disease is suspected or confirmed it is important to notify and test sexual partners. It is important that the doctor is informed about any other conditions which the patient may have. Previous treatments are also important because the treating physician needs to know about any treatment which has been used and if the treatment had been successful.

  • Physical Examination
  • The physical examination should include a brief general examination as well as examination of the lesions present on the genitals. If typical blister-like lesions are present the most likely cause is the Herpes virus but further special tests may be performed to confirm the diagnosis.

  • Blood Tests
  • blood-test-herpes-genital

    A PCR blood test for herpes can be done by drawing blood

    A PCR blood test for herpes can be done by drawing blood. This test looks for the virus in the blood and is very accurate. Herpes can be diagnosed with this test even if the person does not have any symptoms of infection. Antibody testing of the blood can be done to determine which type of virus is present (Herpes Simplex 1 or Herpes Simplex 2). This helps determine the most likely route in which the person acquired the infection. Blood tests for other common sexually transmitted diseases can be performed to exclude the presence of other infections.

  • Microscopy
  • A small sample of cells may be obtained from a lesion. This sample is then sent to the lab to detect the herpes virus under microscopic evaluation. This type of testing is most accurate.