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Herpes Test commonly asked questions

What is herpes?

Herpes is a virus that affects the mouth or genital area. There are 2 types of herpes viruses: simplex 1 and 2. Herpes simplex 1 (HSV-1) is usually associated with infections of the mouth and lips, usually manifesting as cold sores. Herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2) more commonly affects the genital area, but the two virus strains can effect both areas.


How is herpes spread?

The most common route of transmission is by sexual contact that is having vaginal, oral or anal sex with an infected partner who has an active infection. Close skin to skin transmission is also possible. Kissing, touching or caressing an area infected with herpes can spread the virus.

The more recently infected the person is, the more virus they are likely to shed. Since the outbreaks are not always accompanied by the presence of sores, an infected person may not know he or she has herpes or is infectious.

It can also be contracted by a baby if the mother has an active infection during delivery.

Can the virus be spread with daily activities?

Yes but unlikely. The herpes virus does not survive for long outside the body. Therefore, catching it from toilet seats, soap, towels, sheets, and clothing or spa surfaces is highly unlikely.

However, you can contract herpes by kissing someone with a herpes-induced cold sore. You can also catch it by sharing drinking glasses with someone, although the risk of this type of transmission is very low.

Can it be spread to sexual partners between outbreaks?

Yes. It can be spread to sexual partners even when there is no active outbreak. This is particularly true with regard to the original site of infection.

What is the difference of type 1 and 2 spreads?

HSV-2 (genital) herpes seems to shed more virus than HSV-1 and it is easier to pass it to other people. Another difference is that herpes 2 potentially can give more frequent outbreaks.

What is the chance of spreading with one time contact?

The chance of catching herpes on a 'one night stand' is low unless the person has an active lesion at the time of the contact. You have more chance of catching it from a long-time partner, and even this can take years to develop.

How can I avoid spreading the infection during outbreaks?

  • Avoid sexual contact with partners since protection is not eliminating the transmission
  • Try not to touch the sores, but wash your hands if you do.
  • Keep the infected area dry and clean.
  • Wash hands frequently to prevent transmission to others.
  • In particular, avoid touching a sore and then touching your eyes.


What are the first outbreak symptoms?

The first symptoms of herpes infection (both herpes 1 and 2) are:

  • Itching, burning and blisters or sores on the genitals or anus.
  • Flu-like symptoms including headache, fever, swollen glands and muscle pains.
  • A vaginal, penal or anal discharge with or without herpetic lesions.
  • Swollen glands
  • Difficult or painful urination
  • Pain in the buttocks, legs or genital area

How long do the symptoms last during the first outbreak?

During the first outbreak symptoms may last from one week to as long as three weeks.

How long do the symptoms last during recurrences?

Symptoms during recurrences are usually shorter and milder and last from 6-10 days.

Will the symptoms be always the same?

No. During recurrences, the symptoms are much milder and might include tingling, itching, burning or pain in the genital or anal area, or vaginal discharge. Sores, if any, are usually smaller.

What triggers the symptoms?

Triggers of outbreaks might include anything that suppresses the immune system: stress, lack of sleep, fever, physical injury, surgery, or menstruation. Certain foods such as chocolate, nuts or sodas could also trigger an outbreak. Occasionally the outbreak can be caused by the friction of sexual intercourse.

What is the likelihood of recurrence and frequency of the outbreak?

Once the infection is contracted, herpes outbreaks are likely to recur approximately 3-6 times a year. HSV-2 is more likely to cause recurrent outbreaks than HSV-1. In general, the herpes is a regressive condition -the number of outbreaks should go down over time.


How the herpes is tested?

Testing is done depends on the presence or absence of the sores

When sores are present

If there is a sore and it is not dry the special viral culture test can be done. The viral culture will determine the presence of the virus in the sore. The viral culture may miss herpes even when it is present when there is little active virus left in the sore. The overall sensitivity of viral culture of genital lesions is only approximately 50 percent. The test will take two to 7 days for the test to come back

When there are no symptoms/sores?

Blood work generally has done when there are no visible sores or symptoms. The blood work will look for the presence of the antibody.

Can the test differentiate between type one and type two?

Yes. The herpes blood test is type specific and can differentiate between type 1 and type 2.

What is the name of the herpes blood test?

The test is called the herpes select and can tell the difference between type 1 and type 2 herpes

What types of antibodies are being tested?

IgG antibodies for herpes 1 and 2.

What does positive test result mean?

Positive test results mean the presence of infection.

What does a negative test result mean?

Negative test results means that virus or antibodies not found during testing but does not definitely rule out the presence of the virus or antibody since it takes up to 90 days in some cases to develop antibodies


Is herpes treatable?

Yes. Herpes is treatable but not curable. Anti-viral medications for herpes can be basically divided into oral medications (tablets or liquid) and topical medications (creams or gels).

What drugs are available for treatment?

Oral treatments such as Zovirax (acyclovir), Valtrex (valacyclovir) and Famvir (famciclovir) prevent the virus from multiplying and help the body fight infection. These latter two newer drugs are more easily absorbed than Zovirax and can be taken less frequently than Zovirax. These drugs help prevent recurrences of the symptoms and therefore help prevent transmission of the virus to others. When outbreaks do occur, they shorten the duration of the symptoms. These drugs have low toxicity and should be safe to take on a regular basis by most people.

When should the treatment be given?

There are two different treatment regimens that can be adopted for herpes drugs.

Suppressive therapy:

Taking the drug every day suppresses outbreaks of the symptoms and can reduce the number of outbreaks. This type of therapy offered to people with 5 or more outbreaks a year.

Episodic therapy:

The drug can be taken at the onset of an outbreak. These speeds up healing and may prevent a full outbreak from occurring. It may also shorten the duration of the outbreak by one or two days.

What are the likely side effects of drugs like Valtrex, Zovirax and Famvir?

It should be kept in mind that most pharmaceutical medicines produce some kind of side effects. Minor side effects of the above drugs may include: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, headache, swelling of hands and feet or loss of appetite. Blood test for the kidney function necessary if the suppressive therapy offered

Are there any topical treatments for herpes?

Zovirax cream, which contains 5% acyclovir, can be used to help reduce itching and pain. Note that it does NOT prevent transmission of the herpes virus

What can be done at the time of the outbreak if the medication is not the option?

The outbreak will subside weather you taking the medication or not. If medication is not an option for you a few basic measures can be adopted to reduce the pain and discomfort associated with herpes symptoms, including:

  • wearing loose, cotton underwear to prevent chafing
  • taking warm baths
  • gently applying cornstarch to the area
  • Applying cold compresses or ice packs

No Surprise Fees Is Our Guarantee

We offer affordable pricing and are happy to take on patients who are currently without medical insurance.

We offer a $90($84 cash) initial office visit fee(All patient seen by a doctor). In addition, we offer a full panel of STD tests for a competitively priced $220.

Syphilis- $50.00
Chlamydia and Gonorrhea(both)- $120.00
HIV- $60.00
Herpes (1 and 2 )- $70.00

Rapid HIV test is $65(credit)or $60(cash). No office visit fee applied for Rapid testing.

Our guarantee to you is that you will never be surprised by any hidden fees or extra charges. All pricing is discussed up front before the tests are performed so that our patients understand completely what they have been charged for.