Did you know that the results of some herpes tests are not always accurate? Many doctors know this, but fail to share the information with their patients. As such, the possibility of misdiagnosis is rather high. According to one study, the standard HerpeSelect test has a 50/50 chance of being wrong.
High Margin of Error
The reason why herpes tests are not always accurate is easy to explain. All herpes tests examine your body’s ability to absorb herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) antibodies. They measure it on a scale where 1.1 is the cutoff point. So, anything above 1.1 will result in a simplex 2 herpes diagnosis.
But according to this study, the index value of 1.1 is very low. The scientists found that tests with the index value of 3.5 and above were accurate in 90% of the cases. However, those with cutoff points between 1.1 and 3.5 had a 50% chance of returning false positives. It gets more alarming, though. The study found that the results close to the 1.1 cutoff point had a 90% chance of being false.
The Gold Standard Herpes Test
While most herpes tests are not always accurate, there is one that is. The Western blot delivers better results, but only a handful of health institutions in the US offer it. That’s because it’s much more expensive than the standard HerpeSelect test.
Lab technicians also use this test for a variety of other viral diseases. The technique behind it allows for accurate readings in 99% of the cases. It takes about 24 hours to get the readings, and the complete results are available within three to five days. While an increasing number of institutions are adopting this method, it will be a while before it becomes a standard.
What You Should Do
If you get a test result between 1.1 and 3.5, CDC recommends further testing to confirm the result. Even though they know that herpes tests are not always accurate, most doctors won’t refer their patients for follow-up tests. Take it upon yourself to ask them for a referral. This way, you’ll know for certain if you have simplex 2 herpes and you’ll be able to start proper treatment on time.