Misdiagnosed with herpes?

Originally Published: June 3, 2005 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: September 25, 2009
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Dear Alice,

Five years ago, I set up an appointment to visit my gyno because I was having discomfort in my genital area. I assumed it was a yeast infection or urinary tract infection. When I went to my appt., I was given an exam and told that it was possibly herpes. I was then told to go to the local hospital to take a blood test and within a few days, I was told my results would be in. A few days after I took the blood test, I received a call for my gyno.'s office and told to come in so I could be told my results. She told me that it came back positive and right then and there diagnosed me with Genital Herpes. I was never given any type of medication to treat my so-called Herpes outbreak and as I sit here FIVE years later, I can honestly tell you that I have had no discomfort since and no symptoms whatsoever of Herpes. What are the odds of me being misdiagnosed? What are the odds of not having one outbreak in five years?? This is very important to me because I am seeing someone new (when this all happened I was in a long term relationship and we have now broken up). I don't want to become sexually active with my new partner until I am 100% positive that I have this disease because I'm not going to pour my heart out and scare him away if in fact I don't even have it. Would I be overreacting if I went to a different clinic and didn't mention to them that I have already been diagnosed and requested a STD test to see how the results come back? I really appreciate your time and help. Thank you!

Dear Reader,

Some people with herpes are asymptomatic; they do not have symptoms. Women can have internal outbreaks along the vaginal barrel or on the cervix, yet it seems to them that they are symptom-free. Other people can have outbreaks and mistake them for something else, such as insect bites, razor burn, jock itch, or ingrown hair follicles. Recurrent episodes are usually less severe than the initial outbreak and do not last as long, which may be why these episodes are easily missed. And some people do not get recurrences.

Herpes is most easily diagnosed when blisters are present. When you are asymptomatic and take a blood test, the test looks for antibodies that fight the virus. While these tests are fairly accurate, tests can have false positive rates. Newer tests are more reliable than older tests; they can differentiate between Herpes Type 1 (oral herpes) and Herpes Type 2 (genital herpes). However, even in the newer tests, false positives can occur around 5 percent of the time.

It is understandable, and responsible of you, to want to check your health status before becoming sexually active with your new partner. Generally, testing for sexually transmitted infections while asymptomatic is not suggested. However, if you truly feel you may have been misdiagnosed, you can talk with your health care provider or the local health clinic about taking a new test. You may even want to contact your gynecologist and inquire if the test you took could distinguish between Type 1 and Type 2 herpes. Be open about your previous test results and that you've been symptom-free since then. You can also talk with the provider about the likelihood of transmission in a case like yours. All of this information can help you decide about and frame a discussion with a potential partner.

Herpes or not, an open discussion with a new partner about previous sexual experiences and even getting tested together before becoming intimate makes sense.

If another blood test for herpes confirms your initial diagnosis, the Related Q&As can help you better understand asymptomatic herpes. You also might get ideas about having this kind of talk with your potential partner. As difficult as it may be to initiate this conversation, you'll learn more about yourself and about the other person. This information might encourage you to move forward into this new relationship or experience, or it may cause you to close the door on this one. Remember, you have choices.

Alice

September 10, 2009

21577

To the reader:

It can happen! I was such a non-believer too! How could I, a mere mortal, challenge a form of science that has been used dozens of times? Well... I got retested because my...

To the reader:

It can happen! I was such a non-believer too! How could I, a mere mortal, challenge a form of science that has been used dozens of times? Well... I got retested because my boyfriend tested negative. We are in a monogamous relationship after all and I trusted him. I received my results and I tested NEGATIVE! False-positive results can happen. I'm not saying that they happen often, but you gotta believe your gut.

September 3, 2009

21567
To the reader:

I was tested for HSV 2 (genital herpes) and had the following results: positive, negative, positive over a five year period. All the while, I NEVER had any symptoms.

...

To the reader:

I was tested for HSV 2 (genital herpes) and had the following results: positive, negative, positive over a five year period. All the while, I NEVER had any symptoms.

Recently I went to a new doctor and she explained that recent studies reveal that the test that I was given previously has a 50% false-positive rate. This is one of the most common tests administered today! She then gave me a test called the Western Blot, which is very accurate and it came back NEGATIVE.

I am thankful for the results, but I am also irritated that I spent 5 years of my life thinking that I had genital herpes. This was something that disturbed me often and made me hesitant to date people.

I'd like to suggest to the woman that wrote on here that she get the Western Blot test and settle this diagnosis once and for all. If she is positive, she has nothing to be ashamed of. It is just a skin disease. The only reason it is stigmatized is because it has to do with sex. Chicken pox isn't stigmatized even though it's also a type of herpes virus.

Take care and good luck!

May 29, 2009

21550

To the reader:

I just wanted to let you know that I went through this exact dilemma. I was diagnosed with herpes and my sister, who is a doctor, told me to get a second test just to make...

To the reader:

I just wanted to let you know that I went through this exact dilemma. I was diagnosed with herpes and my sister, who is a doctor, told me to get a second test just to make sure since I never had any symptoms. I know there are asymptomatic cases. The second test came back negative. I did this all within a month. I did have a UTI, which I treated and feel fine now.