First, it’s important to know that there are two types of HSV (1 and 2) that cause infection. HSV 1 (Oral Herpes) typically causes cold sores, and HSV 2 is normally responsible for genital herpes. We don’t test for HSV 1 since it so so common (half the population!) and people who have it probably got it from their parents when they were young.
Because there are so many false positives, the CDC does not recommend that everyone get tested for HSV 2, though the CDC does say that herpes testing may be useful in some situations: 1) If you have genital symptoms (aka lesions) that could be related to herpes 2) If you have (or have had) a sex partner with genital herpes, or 3) If you want a complete STD exam, especially if you have multiple sex partners. While there is no cure for HSV2, there are viral suppression treatment options, such as Valtrex, that can prevent outbreaks from occurring.
It is important to know that HSV2 is most contagious when the person is having an outbreak, though it is possible to pass HSV 2 to someone else even when you do not have sores. If you have a partner with HSV2 or are considering partnering with HSV2, we encourage you to review this information provided by the CDC to understand the facts.