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Is it possible for a swab test on herpes to be wrong? I've only had unprotected sex once. 3 days later I had an itch, but it didn't go away... Within 9 days I had one large red bump ... I got tested for everything, including UTI. I had UTI. The doctor said it was probably herpes, so I took herpes drugs before the results came back... Once results were back doctor said very non caring as if it was no big deal that I had genital hsv1 ( not from oral sex). The bump went away with no scabs... Is it possible the results weren't correct? How can I confirm results? And what are the chances of passing it on? How do I tell my next partner? thx

Hi there,

Thanks for your question. From what you've told me here, it sounds like your herpes test was probably accurate. Herpes tests can be wrong, but it is much more common for them to give a false negative (because we are swabbing a herpes sore that is already healing up), than for the test to give a false positive. It sounds like in your case you did have an active sore when you got tested, and the swab found HSV-1 in the sore. So, you very likely do have HSV-1.

(If you want to confirm the result, you would need to wait until you have another sore on your genitals, and go get another swab within the first 3 days of having symptoms. You could do this with your doctor, or at any STI clinic.)

I'm sorry you got an uncaring response about this from your doctor. Many people find a herpes diagnosis very shocking, and it's common to have lots of questions and emotions about herpes. The good news about herpes is that it does not have major effects on your health. For most people, herpes is a minor skin condition that comes and goes without causing problems.

The complicated part about having herpes is adjusting to the idea of it, and talking to partners about it. It is easy to pass this virus on to partners if you have skin-to-skin contact in the area where you have HSV, especially during an outbreak. You can also pass the virus on when you don't have any symptoms, although this is less likely. Condoms reduce the chances of passing it on, but not completely, since the skin around the base of the condom is still exposed.

It can be a tough topic to bring up with a new partner, but you are not alone. Herpes is incredibly common. We think that about 50% of the population in BC has herpes either orally or genitally (although not all of these people are aware of it). If you have a partner who already has HSV-1, even if they have it orally, they will not catch HSV-1 genitally from you. Looking at some herpes resources can make the conversation a bit easier. It can also help to talk to a health care provider at an STI clinic, or even bring a partner in to ask questions together.

Let us know if that helps answer your question,

Health Nurse

This answer was posted on April 16, 2018

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