Testing for Herpes: Step-by-Step Guide

How to get tested for Herpes

Testing for herpes is complicated and can be confusing in America.

Currently available, FDA-approved IgG antibody tests sometimes present with false positive results where the test says you are infected with HSV and you are not. Tests can also have false negative results. Most often, false positive results are found in the index value range of 1.1 to 5.0 but IgG false positives can be as high as 17.

As a result, CDC guidelines call for TWO STEP testing to confirm a herpes diagnosis. Meaning once the initial IgG antibody test is performed, a follow-up confirmatory test is recommended. This two-step process has been recommended per the CDC guidelines because currently available diagnostic IgG antibody tests are so often false negative/positive.

Availability of the confirmatory test (the second step test) is limited and many providers do not know how to take steps to order the confirmatory testing for patients.

To access confirmatory testing and confirm a herpes diagnosis – patients will need to order the Western Blot (WB) from the University of Washington. The WB test is not FDA-approved, needs to be ordered directly from UW, and a blood sample sent directly to their academic lab for processing.

The UW Western Blot is widely considered the gold standard for herpes antibody testing. While the initial IgG test looks for a single antibody protein to distinguish and identify HSV-1 and HSV-2, the WB looks for all of the proteins associated with herpes antibody. This makes the Western Blot test a much more comprehensive look for evidence of HSV infection. There is no such thing as a false positive WB.

Patients and professionals wanting to order Western Blot directly from Univ. Washington, can do so by taking the following steps:

Order Herpes Testing with University of Washington Western Blot

How do I confirm a herpes diagnosis? Read how here.

STEP 1: CALL TO ORDER: 1-800-713-5198 or 1- 206-685-6066.

The package contains blood draw and transport tubes, lab instructions, lab requisition form, labels for the outside of the packaging, address to ship back to the University of Washington. The kit comes in an anonymous brown cardboard box and says nothing about the sender (Univ. Washington) or it’s contents on the packaging.

STEP 2: BLOOD DRAW: Drawing of blood for testing.

The patient (and/or healthcare professional needs to identify a location to draw and process their blood sample. The location chosen must include a centrifuge to spin down the blood sample to separate the red cells from the clear serum.

NOTE: LabCorp and Quest WILL NOT draw blood to ship for testing to Univ. of Washington. They currently do not offer any confirmatory testing for Herpes.

Below is a list of labs to go to for a blood draw.

Any Lab Test Now: ARCpoint lab will draw and ship with a label.

ARCpoint laboratories:  They will also draw blood for a feeand you can enter your zip code in their website for a lab location near you.  

YOUR LOCAL HOSPITAL OUT PATIENT LAB: A hospital lab may be able to draw blood using the WB kit. Check with your local hospital lab or your own health care provider!

STEP 3: A physician or health care provider fills out a form for University of Washington.

Patients need to identify a health care provider to fill out a form and order this test. The required lab requisition form will be included in the UW kit. Patients who need a health care provider can work with your own physician.

To confirm your herpes diagnosis from an HSV expert, contact Westover Heights Clinic for support with this process from anywhere in the United States.

STEP 4: Ship blood sample, completed form and a check for payment to University of Washington.

Patients will need to purchase a pre-paid shipping label from UPS or FedEx to ship the sample to UW.

The laboratory that draws your blood can usually ship it the kit after they have processed your sample.

STEP 5: Your provider will contact you with your results!

Results usually take 1-2 weeks, and sometimes longer. The possible results are positive, negative or indeterminate. There are no numbers associated with these results.

Herpes Diagnosis: Learn more about University of Washington Western Blot

Additional guidance from University of Washington to order a Western Blot is available here.

UW Virology lab catalog available here.

Learn more about the Herpes testing and advocacy at the FDA!


Have a news tip? Are you working on clinical research for HSV treatments and want to share updates with the public? Let us know!

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