How long for herpes test results

Overview of Herpes Testing

Herpes testing can be an important part of diagnosing and treating the virus. Many different methods are available to test for herpes and the results can vary depending on the type of test used. It is important to understand the different options available and the time frames that it may take to receive your results.

In this article we will discuss the different types of herpes testing and how long you can expect to wait for the results:

Types of Herpes Testing

Identifying a herpes infection can be done through medical testing. Different tests may be used to detect the presence of the herpes virus, and it is important to understand these methods in order to determine which test is right for you. By becoming familiar with the testing options available, you can be better prepared to make an informed decision about your health care.

The types of tests used for herpes detection include:

  • Cellular Tests: This type of test uses either a swab or urine sample to observe how cells react in a laboratory setting after coming into contact with the herpes virus particles. Upon contact, any infected cells will produce specific proteins and antibodies that will show up on the test results.
  • Type-Specific Blood Tests: This type of test screens for specific antibodies for either HSV-1 or HSV-2 by looking at how your body has reacted to each strand of the virus in tandem with one another. Results are typically available within one week, though early detection methods have decreased this time period even further.
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR): PCR testing is highly effective at detecting even trace amounts of a viral strain’s genetic material in fluid or tissue samples taken from possible sites of infection. The results are typically available within 24 hours while eliminating virtually all false positives or negatives due to cross reactions between similar viruses like chicken pox and herpes zoster viruses.

It is important to note that not all herpes tests are 100% accurate due to potential false positives or negatives that may arise from improper procedure techniques during lab preparation or collection processes as well as human error when interpreting results that appear ambiguous in nature. Be sure to follow your healthcare professional’s advice when asking questions about any potential uncertainties concerning your own individual situation.

Benefits of Herpes Testing

Herpes testing is a crucial part of determining whether you have an active herpes infection, and so it is important for you to make sure that you understand the different types of tests available, as well as the benefits that they offer.

Herpes testing can help diagnosis active infections, which allow for effective treatment and enable medical professionals to advise on preventive measures. Early diagnosis also reduces the risk of passing on the virus to sexual partners or infants during childbirth.

In most cases, there are two methods used to diagnose herpes: culture tests and blood tests.

  • Culture tests involve taking a sample of skin cells or fluids from an infected area where sores have developed and sending it to a lab for analysis.
  • Blood tests involve taking a blood sample from your arm, which is sent to test sensitivities with various antigens that suggest an active infection is present.

No matter which test you choose, both render quick results with minimal inconvenience — usually within a few days after submitting your specimen. Additionally, both methods are painless, non-invasive and highly accurate — meaning that you can be confident in the results you receive.

How Long Does it Take to Get Herpes Test Results?

Getting tested for herpes can be a nerve-wracking experience. However, knowing how long it takes to get results can provide some reassurance. Depending on the type of test, results can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

In this article, we’ll discuss the different test types, turnaround times, and what to do if the results take longer than expected.

Factors Affecting Test Results

A herpes test can inform a patient about the presence of the virus on their body, and prompt them to begin treatment quickly. But it is usually preferable for a patient to get their test results quickly in order to begin treatment promptly. How long does it take for patients to know whether they are positive or negative for herpes?

The timeline for getting your herpes test results largely depends on which type of test is chosen. There are two types of herpes tests: culture or PCR tests, and antibody tests. A culture or PCR test looks directly for the presence of the virus, whereas an antibody test looks for antibodies that have been created in response to an infection with the virus. The choice between the two tests depends on how recently someone has been exposed to the HSV:

  • Culture Tests, also known as direct fluorescent antigen (DFA) testing, take 3-5 days
  • PCR-based Tests also take around 2 days
  • Antibody Tests may take up to weeks after exposure before there is enough antibody present to show a positive result

Regardless of which type of herpes test you choose, you should discuss with your healthcare provider about how long it will take for your results to come back and plan accordingly.

Time Frame for Results

One common question for those who have recently been tested for herpes is how long does it take to get results. Generally, the timeframe for results can vary depending on the test used, which lab the sample is sent to, and the type of herpes virus that you are being tested for (HSV-1 or HSV-2).

For most tests, it may take up to a week or two to receive results. For example, if you opt for a blood test or an antibody test (ELISA), it will usually take around a week before you receive your results. The most reliable and accurate form of testing is through PCR testing; however, this can take up to four weeks before you receive your result.

If your doctor has stated that you need urgent results, they may be able to refer you to a lab which offers express testing which can return results in as soon as 2 – 3 days. Also note that some tests such as rapid point-of-care tests can provide near instant results but are not 100% accurate when compared with an ELISA test or PCR test.

Other Considerations

When it comes to timeframes for herpes test results, there are a few more factors to consider. Depending on the type of test and the laboratory location, the results can come back in different periods of time. In addition, the type of test used can also affect the accuracy of the results. Furthermore, the test may need to be done multiple times to confirm an infection.

Let’s explore all these considerations further:

  • Type of test and laboratory location.
  • Accuracy of the results.
  • Number of times the test needs to be done.

False Positives

In some rare cases, a false positive result may occur when taking a herpes simplex virus (HSV) test. This means that the test indicates that you have the virus, when in fact, you do not. It is important to keep in mind that a false positive result does not happen very often and any test results should always be confirmed by another test from a different laboratory.

Common causes of false positives include:

  • Improper specimen collection
  • Contamination of the testing sample
  • Inaccurate interpretation of the results

The specificity of these tests are generally quite high, meaning that they detect with very high accuracy whether someone is indeed infected with HSV-1 or HSV-2. However, if contamination has occurred or if improper specimen collection has been used, there is an increased risk for a false positive result. For this reason, it is important to ensure proper technique when collecting samples for HSV testing and seek out confirmation from another laboratory if initial tests have been positive.

In most cases, false positive results occur very rarely and one can be confident in their HSV test results as long as proper collection technique has been followed and any initial positives have been verified by other laboratories.


When it comes to testing for herpes, confidentiality is of the utmost importance. To ensure that your personal information is secure, it’s important to discuss the measures taken by healthcare providers and laboratories to protect your identity. Generally speaking, results are kept confidential unless you opt to have them shared with other people in your care team. It’s also important to make sure that a lab or clinic has measures in place to prevent the accidental release of test results.

It’s important to understand that if you’re being tested for herpes, the medical institution or lab that you go to must follow certain regulations and standards when collecting, processing and storing your test results. Additionally, healthcare providers should be able to provide information on:

  • how long it takes before you receive test results from a laboratory or clinic – typically within two weeks –
  • how those results will be shared with you or any third party involved in your care,
  • additional tests offered (such as genetic testing for resistance) if needed for further medical clarity.


The herpes testing timeline can vary depending on which test method is used and whether a sample is sent to a laboratory. It’s important to note that a herpes diagnosis is not always straightforward. However, in most cases, a herpes test can provide results within two to five days.

Different testing methods can provide results sooner or later, depending on the type of test used. In this section, we will discuss the various testing methods and time frames for obtaining results:


Herpes testing typically involves the collection of a sample from an active lesion and sending it to a lab for evaluation. Depending on the method used, test results can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to be available. Serologic tests, antigen tests and PCR tests are all used for diagnosing the herpes virus.

Serologic test results are generally read manually by scientists, leading to longer processing times compared to antigen and PCR tests. Additionally, the amount of time taken may also be impacted by state regulations or if the sample needs to be sent off-site for further analysis.

Overall, it is important to note that due to high demands placed on laboratories with limited staff during certain times of the year (e.g., summer months) there may be delays in obtaining test results regardless of type used. When seeking advice, ensure that you have discussed when you can expect your test results prior to having any procedure performed or sample taken.

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