The 6 Best At-Home Herpes Tests And Test Kits of 2022 (2023)

The 6 Best At-Home Herpes Tests And Test Kits of 2022 (1)Share on Pinterest

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More than 1 in 6 people ages 14 to 49 have reported having genital herpes, which can result in sores, pain, and itching around your genital area.

Genital herpes is caused by two viruses called herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2).

If you haven’t had an initial outbreak, the best time to get tested for herpes is 12 days after exposure, since the incubation period is 2 to 12 days.

This means herpes may not be detectable for up to 12 days after you are exposed to it.

You can schedule an in-person appointment with a doctor, who can use a few different tests to determine your diagnosis. These tests may include:

  • viral culture test
  • virus antigen detection test
  • antibody test
  • polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test

An at-home test, on the other hand, can be done by yourself in private.

You can order a herpes test kit online — which may include a swab test or finger prick blood test — and send the sample back in the mail. Most companies will send your results within 5 days.

  • Best budget option: myLAB Box
  • Best report: Everlywell
  • Best in-person testing option: Priority STD
  • Best for fast results: STD Check
  • Best herpes test subscription: LetsGetChecked
  • Best additional options: HealthLabs

Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI). You can contract it by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the STI.

HSV-1 can also cause oral herpes, which may lead to sores or blisters around the mouth. You can contract oral herpes by kissing or engaging in oral sex with someone who already has it.

Some cases of oral herpes (HSV-1) can lead to genital herpes (HSV-1 and HSV-2) since the virus can spread from the saliva of someone with the infection into your body through oral sex.

It generally takes anywhere from 4 to 7 days for herpes symptoms to appear. In addition to sores or blisters — which are called herpes lesions — around your mouth or genitals, other possible symptoms may include:

  • pain during urination
  • itching
  • fever
  • swollen lymph nodes

Some people don’t experience any symptoms at all, but they can still transmit the infection to others.

When researching at-home herpes tests, we looked for options with fast and accurate results and excellent customer feedback to compile our list of best buys.

Here are the criteria we considered:

  • Popularity: We included tests purchased by hundreds, if not thousands, of customers.
  • Reviews: All products have an excellent average customer rating from people who are happy with their experience.
  • Privacy protocols: It’s essential that medical information is private and compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), so all the companies we considered have strict policies in place.
  • Results: We included services that offer fast, digital results within 5 days or less that people can access easily through a digital platform.
  • Accuracy: We only considered products with a high accuracy rate.
  • Value: We looked for services that provide the best bang for your buck.
  • Company reputation and transparency: We only included products from trusted brands that our team has vetted. This means there’s been no recent recalls or lawsuits, and the products meet our medical and business standards.

FYI: We did include a couple of options that may call for you to leave home to pick up your test kit, so they may not fall 100% into the at-home category. But they are solid options, nonetheless.

Best budget option

myLAB Box

  • Price: $89
  • Results in: online results in 2 to 5 days
  • Collection method: finger prick
  • Type of sample: blood
  • Follow-up care: physician consultation for positive results
(Video) How to do testing For Genital Herpes | Judy Hsu | judyhsudo.com

With a finger prick, myLAB Box’s at-home genital herpes test is pretty straightforward. Online lab results are provided within 1 to 5 days.

When you order a kit, you’ll receive materials to take your finger prick sample in discreet packaging. It also comes with simple instructions and a prepaid envelope to send the sample off for testing.

If your results are positive, you can schedule a free consultation with one of myLAB Box’s physicians. The company works with labs that are certified by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments Act of 1988 (CLIA) and College of American Pathologists (CAP). Plus, the website itself is HIPAA compliant.

Note: Testing is not available yet in New York as the company is waiting for its state application to be approved.

Best report

Everlywell

  • Price: $149
  • Results in: online results in 2 to 5 days
  • Collection method: finger prick and vaginal swab or urine sample
  • Type of sample: blood, vaginal swab, urine
  • Follow-up care: physician consultation for positive results

For $169, people with a vagina can test for seven common STIs at once, including HSV-2. Tests require two samples: a finger prick and a vaginal swab, since the test is for various STIs.

For the same price, people with a penis can also test for herpes by purchasing the company’s STD Test for Men. It looks for the same seven STIs as the other test. Sample types include a finger prick and a urine sample instead.

The kit includes prepaid shipping both ways, digital results, and detailed instructions. Once your kit arrives, you’ll need to register it on Everlywell’s website using the unique ID number included in your box.

In your kit, you’ll receive all you need to collect a finger prick sample and either a vaginal swab packet or a urine cup and urine sample tube.

After shipping your sample, you’ll receive digital results on your account within a few days. If your results are positive, a board certified physician in your state will contact you at no additional cost to discuss your case and prescribe medication if necessary. Everlywell will also send you a personalized report detailing what STI you may have.

The site is HIPAA compliant and physician reviewed. This means your information is kept private, and medical information is approved by independent, board certified healthcare professionals.

Pros

  • tests for a range of STIs
  • simple, at-home testing
  • free, physician follow up if positive

Cons

  • high price point
  • must take own samples

Best in-person testing option

Priority STD

  • Price: $99
  • Results in: online results in 24 to 72 hours
  • Collection method: urine and blood sample
  • Type of sample: urine and blood sample
  • Follow-up care: physician consultation and treatment available for positive results

Priority STD has ​​a 4.9 rating on Trustpilot with more than 1,300 reviews.

You can order the Priority STD individual herpes online or by phone, which normally requires a waiting period of at least 12 days after exposure.

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After scheduling an order, you’ll be directed to find a lab near you. There are over 4,000 labs to choose from, and you can use the site’s online scheduling system to make an appointment.

STI test results are processed online through a secure patient login, typically within 24 to 72 hours after collection.

Pros

  • excellent reviews
  • fast results
  • no need to take own samples

Cons

  • must visit clinic in person

Best for fast results

STD Check

  • Price: $45 (or $90 for HSV-1 and HSV-2)
  • Results in: online results in 1 to 2 days
  • Collection method: blood draw
  • Type of sample: blood
  • Follow-up care: phone consultation with a doctor for positive test results

STD Check has more than 4,500 testing sites nationwide. You can choose an individual test like HSV-1 or HSV-2 for $45 each. You can also order a 10-test panel, which includes the most common STIs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea.

The company is known for its fast test results, which are sent to your online account in 1 to 2 days.

Once you complete your order online, you can select a local testing center based on your ZIP code. According to the company, in-person tests only take 5 minutes.

Your test and results will be completely ​​confidential. If your test results are positive, a physician can answer questions about your diagnosis.

Pros

  • accessible price point
  • physician to answer questions
  • fast results

Cons

  • must visit clinic
  • labs not available in all locations
  • doesn’t accept insurance

Best herpes test subscription

LetsGetChecked

  • Price: $119 (or $83 monthly for subscription)
  • Results in: online results in 2 to 5 days
  • Collection method: finger prick
  • Type of sample: blood
  • Follow-up care: phone consultation with clinical team

When you join the LetsGetChecked subscription service, testing is easy and convenient as you receive everything you need to take your sample in a discrete kit through the mail. Plus, you’ll save 30% on the full price of the kits.

There are also helpful videos on the website that explain the instructions in clear, straightforward language so you can be confident you’re taking your sample correctly.

As with all other testing services on our list, LetsGetChecked is privacy and HIPAA compliant. Your results will be available online in 2 to 5 days. Should your results be positive, you can contact one of the nursing team who can help you determine a treatment plan.

Pros

  • convenient
  • fast results
  • substantial savings with subscription
(Video) At-Home Herpes STD Test: 100% Private and Secure. Results in 2-5 days (USA)!

Cons

  • doesn’t accept insurance


Best additional options

HealthLabs

  • Price: $45 (or $79 for HSV-1 and HSV-2)
  • Results in: online results in 1 to 3 days
  • Collection method: blood draw
  • Type of sample: blood
  • Follow-up care: certified health specialists can walk you through your results

HealthLabs is another in-person testing option with more than 4,500 testing sites across the country. Your options for herpes testing are individual HSV-1 or HSV-2 tests for $45 each or both for $79. Or, you can opt for a comprehensive 10-test STI panel, which includes syphilis, chlamydia, and hepatitis A, B, and C.

You can also opt for an array of other tests covering fertility, hormones, drugs, allergies, and more.

It’s easy to arrange herpes testing with HealthLabs. Simply order online, select and visit a convenient testing center, and receive your results online within 1 to 3 days. You can then call one of the certified health specialists who can talk you through your results and answer any questions.

Pros

  • inexpensive option
  • easy to arrange
  • fast results

Cons

  • must visit a lab
  • labs not available in all locations

TestsmyLAB BoxEverlywellPriority STDSTD CheckLetsGetCheckedHealthLabs
Price$89$169$99
$45 (or $90 for HSV-1 and HSV-2)
$119 (or $83 monthly for subscription)$45 (or $79 for HSV-1 and HSV-2)
Collectionfinger prick blood samplefinger prick and vaginal swab or urine sampleblood draw and urine collectionblood drawfinger prick blood sampleblood draw
Results2 to 5 days2 to 5 days1 to 3 days1 to 2 days2 to 5 days1 to 3 days
Follow-upphysician consultation physician consultation physician consultation physician consultation phone consultation with clinical teamconsultation with certified health specialist

If you’re considering getting tested for herpes, you may wonder how to choose between the various options. Here are some things to consider:

  • Types of tests. Herpes tests are available as single tests for HSV-1 or HSV-2, a combination test for both, or as part of a comprehensive STI panel that covers a range of infections.
  • Results. Some services offer results in as little as 1 day, while others may take up to a week.
  • Accuracy. All the tests on our list boast high accuracy rates. Opt for a company that uses (CLIA) accredited labs, so you know you’re getting accurate results. Don’t settle for anything less.
  • Privacy and confidentiality. Choose a brand that complies with strict policies to ensure your privacy and confidentiality.
  • Consultations. Wherever possible, opt for a company that provides follow-up care. Should you test positive, it’s helpful to have access to a professional who can advise you on treatment options.
  • Pricing. Tests can range in price from $45 for a single test to over $200 for a comprehensive panel. Consider what tests you need and whether you want to bundle them together to get the best value.

Your HSV test results will likely be reported as negative (sometimes called “normal”) or positive (sometimes called “abnormal”):

  • Negative. The herpes virus was not found. However, you may still have an HSV infection if your results were negative. It may mean the sample didn’t have enough virus to be detected. If you still have symptoms of herpes, you may need to order another test.
  • Positive. HSV was found in your sample. It may mean you have an active infection (i.e., you currently have sores) or contracted the virus in the past (i.e., you have no sores).

If your test results are positive for HSV, talk with a doctor about your next steps.

Talk with a doctor if you notice any sores on or around your genitals. Other STIs, like syphilis, can look like herpes but need different treatment. Treatment is needed to prevent complications and transmission.

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Your doctor will let you know whether you should test for herpes or another STI, and they can help you get treatment if needed.

Are at-home herpes tests accurate?

These tests use the same type of samples used in a doctor’s office. The accuracy of a herpes test primarily depends on when you get tested.

When should I get tested?

The best time to get tested for herpes if you haven’t had an initial outbreak is 12 days after exposure. This is because your body will have had time to produce antibodies that can be detected on a test.

A blood test can determine whether you have these antibodies.

Swabs, on the other hand, can detect the virus directly from an active herpes lesion.

Who should get tested?

Anyone who has herpes symptoms or thinks they’ve been in close contact with someone who has herpes should get tested.

How can I prevent transmitting herpes?

Although latex condoms can reduce the risk of transmitting most STIs by 98%, condoms don’t prevent herpes transmission. This is because not all herpes sores occur in areas that are covered by a condom.

If you’re experiencing an active outbreak, you can prevent herpes transmission by:

  • avoiding sexual activity (kissing and oral, vaginal, and anal sex) until symptoms go away
  • washing your hands thoroughly and applying medication with cotton swabs to reduce contact with sores

Taking a daily antiviral herpes medication can also help prevent transmission, shorten outbreaks, and manage symptoms.

Are at-home herpes tests private?

Yes. All of the tests listed here are completely confidential and private.

Your results will not be reported to your insurance company and, therefore, will not be placed on your permanent medical records.

The package you receive will only have the shipping label — no test name or visuals that indicate what it is for. These online platforms are also HIPAA compliant.

What should I do if my test results are positive?

Many at-home services have independent physicians or nurses reach out to people with positive test results. They’ll discuss your results with you and suggest a plan of action, possibly including medication.

If your results are positive, it’s important to let any recent sexual partners know so they can also get tested.

When should I talk with a doctor?

If you have a primary care doctor who you regularly visit, you can share your results with them to provide better insight into your next steps.

If you don’t have a primary care doctor, you can consult with a physician or nurse from the testing site about treatment options.

If you’ve been treating your symptoms with medication and are still in pain or discomfort, reach out to a healthcare professional.

Will I have to pay for the test out of pocket?

You’ll have to check with your insurance network to see whether at-home STI tests are covered.

Insurance does typically cover them, but sites like Everlywell recommend verifying the purchase with your insurance.

Additionally, some networks may reimburse you for your purchase.

However, most at-home testing sites aren’t currently partnered with any insurance companies, which means you’ll have to reach out yourself.

If you don’t have insurance, you’ll likely have to pay for the test out of pocket. Some sites like Priority STD don’t accept insurance, so it’s a flat rate of $99 regardless of your coverage.

Can you be exposed to herpes and not get it?

Yes. Research suggests that in couples where only one partner has genital herpes, the other partner contracted genital herpes within 1 year in only 5 to 10% of couples.

You can prevent transmission by:

  • taking daily antiviral herpes medication
  • avoiding kissing and oral, vaginal, and anal intercourse during an outbreak
  • using a barrier method during outbreak-free periods

There’s no current cure for herpes, but treatment can prevent or shorten outbreaks and manage symptoms.

Getting tested can prevent oral herpes from spreading to the genital area. It can also protect other people who you’re involved with sexually from contracting the virus.

Bonnie Azoulay Elmann is a freelance writer with six years of experience. She’s written for Glamour, Marie Claire, Health, and more publications. You can find her work here.

FAQs

What is the most reliable test for herpes? ›

The recommended test for active genital herpes is viral culture or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing of vesicle fluid. PCR is the recommended testing method for neonates and for cases in which encephalitis or bloodborne infection is suspected.

Are at home herpes tests reliable? ›

At-home herpes tests are considered unreliable by medical professionals. In addition, blood tests take 2-12 days for incubation, so as a result, they might not suitable for detecting new infections.

Do home test kits detect herpes? ›

A herpes test can be done quickly using a home testing kit. You will have to be showing symptoms to collect the required sample. The blisters should not have scabbed over and healed in order to collect a good sample.

How do you get tested for herpes ASAP? ›

You can get tested for herpes and other STDs at your doctor's office, a community health clinic, the health department, or your local Planned Parenthood health center. STD testing isn't usually part of your regular checkup or gynecologist exam — you have to ask for it.

Are there herpes rapid tests? ›

A self-diagnostic test for infection by Herpes-2, also known as Genital Herpes, or Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 (HSV-2). This rapid test kit detects HSV-2 IgG antibodies in blood. Certified by global medical standards: TÜV ISO 13485 (ISO's International Medical Devices Standard) Certified.

Why don't they test for herpes the most? ›

Herpes. For herpes, according to CDC guidelines, testing only occurs if there are symptoms and there are several reasons for this distinction. First, research shows diagnosing herpes in someone without symptoms does not change that person's sexual behavior and doesn't prevent herpes from spreading.

How often are herpes tests wrong? ›

About 50% of people who test positive for HSV-2 on an IgG based test with an index value between 1.1 and 3.5 do not have herpes (the lower the value, the higher chance of a false positive, the higher the value the more likely it's an accurate result).

Can you diagnose herpes without a test? ›

If you have possible herpes symptoms such as sores, your doctor may be able to diagnose you on sight, the CDC notes. Sometimes, though, a doctor in this scenario will decide to perform tests just to be sure.

Can you test for herpes same day? ›

You might get a blood test if you think you have been exposed but you don't have any symptoms. Labs may use different types of blood tests. With some you can get results the same day, but others may take up to 3 weeks.

Is there a blood test to detect herpes? ›

PCR is used to copy your DNA from a sample of your blood, tissue from a sore or spinal fluid. The DNA can then be tested to establish the presence of HSV and determine which type of HSV you have. Blood test. This test analyzes a sample of your blood for the presence of HSV antibodies to detect a past herpes infection.

How long would herpes take to show on a test? ›

For the most accurate test result, it is recommended to wait 12 – 16 weeks from the last possible date of exposure before getting an accurate, type-specific blood test in order to allow enough time for antibodies to reach detectable levels.

Can urine test detect herpes? ›

Does Herpes show in a urine test? Herpes will show in a urine test if and only if you have symptoms at the time of the test. So, a positive urine test means that you do have herpes. If it is negative, it means you did not have an outbreak at the time of the test.

Is there a cure for herpes 2022? ›

There is no cure for genital herpes. However, daily use of antiviral medicines can prevent or shorten outbreaks. Antiviral medicines also can reduce the chance of spreading it to others.

How long can you have herpes without testing positive? ›

If the infection occurred very recently (within a few weeks to 3 months), the test may be negative, but you may still be infected. This is called a false negative. It can take up to 3 months after a possible herpes exposure for this test to be positive.

Do most people have herpes? ›

Genital herpes infection is common in the United States. CDC estimated that there were 572,000 new genital herpes infections in the United States in a single year. Nationwide, 11.9 % of persons aged 14 to 49 years have HSV-2 infection (12.1% when adjusted for age).

Do you have to disclose herpes? ›

There are no black and white rules for telling your partner you have herpes, and everyone needs to make their own decisions depending on the situation, but the fact is more people are accepted by new partners than rejected for having genital herpes. Some people choose not to tell casual partners.

Can you have herpes for years and test negative? ›

You may still have an HSV infection if your results were normal. It may mean the sample didn't have enough of the virus to be detected. If you still have symptoms of herpes, you may need to get tested again. Positive/Abnormal.

Can BV be mistaken for herpes? ›

Like herpes, BV often has no symptoms, but when it does, you might experience vaginal discharge, pain, itching or burning, and a fishy odor. The external skin itching and discomfort are what many people mistake for herpes. Bacterial vaginosis is treated with antibiotics.

Do herpes antibodies mean I have herpes? ›

If your test result is positive, it can mean that you have an active herpes infection without symptoms. It can also mean that you had an HSV infection in the past. The antibody blood test is not as reliable as culturing a sample from a herpes sore.

Where can I check if I have herpes? ›

If you have symptoms, they can tell you if it's herpes by looking at or testing the sores. If you don't have symptoms, they can do a blood test. Planned Parenthood health centers, many other clinics, private health care providers, and health departments offer herpes tests and herpes treatments.

How do you get tested for herpes without an outbreak? ›

PCR test: The PCR test can tell if you have genital herpes even if you don't have symptoms. The PCR test looks for pieces of the virus's DNA in a sample taken from cells or fluids from a genital sore or the urinary tract. This is a commonly used test to diagnose genital herpes and is very accurate.

How accurate is a herpes blood test after 6 weeks? ›

The HerpeSelect® Herpes Type 2 Test is 97 to 99 percent accurate between four to six weeks post-exposure and remains 99 percent accurate after 6 weeks post-exposure. It's important to wait at least four weeks after exposure, because it takes time for the body to develop antibodies that are detected by a blood test.

Can you donate blood with herpes? ›

Yes, you can donate blood even if you have herpes — but only if you're not having an outbreak of symptoms and if it's been more than 48 hours since you finished an antiviral treatment.

How do you keep herpes dormant? ›

Reducing Outbreaks
  1. Get plenty of sleep. This helps keep your immune system strong.
  2. Eat healthy foods. Good nutrition also helps your immune system stay strong.
  3. Keep stress low. Constant stress can weaken your immune system.
  4. Protect yourself from the sun, wind, and extreme cold and heat.

Are blood tests for herpes always accurate? ›

Herpes blood tests have a sensitivity level of about 80-98%. This type of test detects antibodies to the herpes virus, so it may not be as accurate when performed soon after infection.

How unreliable are herpes tests? ›

The widely available tests for herpes are famously inaccurate and can give false positives up to 50%. In some cases they can fail to detect the virus at all.

How common are false herpes tests? ›

Meanwhile, the CDC and the US Preventive Services Task Force concur that the most widely available herpes test, called HerpeSelect, should not be used to screen asymptomatic people because of its high risk of false positives: Up to 1 in 2 positive tests could be false, according to the USPSTF's most recent guidelines.

Can you have herpes If your blood test is negative? ›

Normal Results

A negative (normal) test most often means you have not been infected with HSV-1 or HSV-2. If the infection occurred very recently (within a few weeks to 3 months), the test may be negative, but you may still be infected. This is called a false negative.

Can herpes show up in a blood test without an outbreak? ›

If you have the herpes virus and your body has produced antibodies, it can be detected on a blood test, even if you have no symptoms. The only time the virus might not be detected on a test (after you've contracted it) is if you've been tested too early.

What blood work shows herpes? ›

HSV DNA PCR (NAAT)—this method detects HSV genetic material in a sample from the blister, blood, or other fluid, such as spinal fluid. PCR can detect the virus as well as identify the type of herpes virus (HSV-1 or HSV-2).

How many times can you test negative for herpes? ›

In a small number of people, HSV antibodies in the blood test will not be present in the usual time period. If one suspects HSV, the test can be repeated in another three months. False negative and positive results are rare.

Can herpes be detected in urine? ›

Does Herpes show in a urine test? Herpes will show in a urine test if and only if you have symptoms at the time of the test. So, a positive urine test means that you do have herpes. If it is negative, it means you did not have an outbreak at the time of the test.

How do you test for herpes without symptoms? ›

PCR test: The PCR test can tell if you have genital herpes even if you don't have symptoms. The PCR test looks for pieces of the virus's DNA in a sample taken from cells or fluids from a genital sore or the urinary tract. This is a commonly used test to diagnose genital herpes and is very accurate.

How long does it take for herpes to show up after exposure? ›

The average incubation period for an initial herpes infection is 4 days (range, 2 to 12) after exposure. The vesicles break and leave painful ulcers that may take two to four weeks to heal after the initial herpes infection. Experiencing these symptoms is referred to as having a first herpes “outbreak” or episode.

Can you be immune to herpes? ›

In Short, No, You Can't Be Immune to Herpes

Current scientific research shows that herpes is highly contagious and that everyone is at risk of infection. It's also extremely common, infecting anywhere from more than 50% of people (in the case of HSV-1) to around 11% of people (in the case of HSV-2).

Are cold sores always herpes? ›

Cold sores are caused by a virus called herpes simplex. Once you have the virus, it stays in your skin for the rest of your life. Sometimes it causes a cold sore. Most people are exposed to the virus when they're young after close skin to skin contact, such as kissing, with someone who has a cold sore.

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