doctor testing for herpes in test lab

Does Herpes Show Up on STD Tests?

When it comes to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), many people wonder about herpes and its detection. "Does herpes show up on STD tests?" is a common question among individuals seeking to maintain their sexual health.

This article aims to provide comprehensive information on herpes testing, shedding light on the types of tests available and their effectiveness in detecting herpes.

Key Points

  • Yes it does, but it's dependent on the test.
  • It's important to make sure you know which test you are taking.


Herpes and STD Testing

Standard STD panels often include tests for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis. However, herpes is not routinely included in these panels. The primary reason is that herpes testing involves specific methods and is generally recommended only under certain circumstances.

Types of Herpes Tests

  1. Viral Culture Test: This test involves taking a sample from a sore and testing it for the presence of the herpes virus. It's most effective when the sore is new.

  2. Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Test: PCR testing is used to copy your DNA from a sample of your blood, tissue from a sore, or spinal fluid. It can detect herpes even if you're not experiencing symptoms.

  3. Blood Tests: Blood tests check for herpes antibodies. They can distinguish between HSV-1 and HSV-2 antibodies, but cannot determine the site of the infection.

When to Get Tested for Herpes

Testing for herpes is recommended if:

  • You have symptoms of herpes, such as sores.
  • You have had sexual contact with a partner who has herpes.
  • You’re pregnant and have a history of genital herpes.

Challenges in Herpes Testing

It's important to note that herpes tests are not always definitive. False negatives can occur, especially in the early stages of infection. Additionally, a positive test for herpes antibodies indicates exposure to the virus but doesn't necessarily confirm an active infection.

Prevention and Management

While there's no cure for herpes, antiviral medications can manage symptoms and reduce the risk of transmission. Practicing safe sex, using condoms, and being in a mutually monogamous relationship are key preventive measures.


In summary, herpes does not show up on standard STD tests and requires specific testing. Understanding the nature of herpes and the testing options available is crucial for anyone concerned about STDs. If you believe you've been exposed to herpes or show symptoms, consult a healthcare provider for the appropriate testing and guidance.

Back to blog