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Several companies produce at-home kits that test for herpes. These may be beneficial for those who suspect that they have herpes but are reluctant or unable to visit a doctor’s clinic.
A quick look at the 6 best at-home herpes tests
- Best subscription: LetsGetChecked
- Best STI panel test: Everlywell
- Most convenient: MyLAB Box
- Cheapest herpes test: HealthLabs
- Best for early detection: Priority STD
- Best for quick results: STDcheck
This article discusses the different types of at-home herpes tests available and some advantages and disadvantages. It also lists a selection of at-home herpes tests that people can consider.
MNT chooses at-home tests that meet the following criteria where possible:
- Laboratories: Where possible, MNT will choose companies that process test samples in
CLIA-certifiedlabs. This means they follow state and federal regulations.
- Budget: MNT chooses at-home tests that suit a range of budgets.
- Privacy: MNT includes companies that offer robust and transparent privacy measures, such as data protection and discreet packaging.
- Test type: MNT chooses tests that screen for a variety of STIs.
- Sample type: MNT chooses tests that offer a range of samples, such as blood, saliva, or urine.
- Test result speed: MNT selects companies that inform customers when they will receive their test results and whether they will receive them via email, app, or phone.
- Further support: MNT will indicate whether a company offers further support, such as a follow-up phone consultation with a doctor to discuss test results.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.
All quotes are provided by a Medical News Today Editor, Lois Zoppi, who received a free herpes test from LetsGetChecked to review.
Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.
Best subscription for herpes test: LetsGetChecked
- Collection method: finger prick blood sample
- Results: within 2–5 days
- Follow-up care: nurses available through LetsGetChecked to discuss positive results
- Cost: $119
- Pro: tests for both HSV-1 and HSV-2
- Con: does not accept insurance
The LetsGetChecked home kits can test for both HSV-1 and HSV-2. This test kit may be best for people who require regular testing as the company’s subscription options can offer significant discounts.
A person receives a collection kit with all the tools they need to collect their samples at home. This includes needles, a prepaid envelope, alcohol swabs, and a tube. The tests come in discreet packaging so that other people will not know what the person has received.
The person also has access to an instruction video on the company website that explains how they should take their test. LetsGetChecked suggests that people take a blood sample before 9 a.m. and return it to the laboratory on the same day.
“I would recommend this product to MNT readers. It’s an easily-accessible way to access tests that allow you to gain insight into your health. The ordering and testing process is very easy and relatively pain-free, and results come quickly.” — Lois Zoppi, MNT Editor
The company states that it issues the results within 2–5 days.
Individuals who receive a positive result can contact a nurse through the company, and they may suggest a treatment plan.
LetsGetChecked offers a one-time purchase for $119. Anyone who requires regular testing can purchase a LetsGetChecked subscription and get discounts on its tests. For instance, a 3-monthly subscription will give a person a 30% saving on the cost of the kits.
Best STI panel test for herpes: Everlywell
- Collection method: finger prick blood sample and a vaginal swab or urine sample
- Results: within 5–7 days
- Follow-up care: board-certified physicians will contact users to offer treatment for positive results
- Cost: $169
- Pro: tests for six STIs, including chlamydia and gonorrhea
- Con: customers report waiting up to 2 weeks for results
Everlywell offers STI test panels for males and females. This test may be most suitable for people who want to test for a wide range of STIs.
This company offers two STI tests: one for males and one for females. Both tests require a finger-prick blood sample. The test for females also requires a vaginal swab, and the test for males requires a urine sample.
This test screens for the following STIs:
Once a person has purchased a test, they must register it on Everlywell’s website. They then need to post the collected samples with prepaid shipping.
Everlywell states that people can receive their test results within 5–7 of posting the samples. However, several customer reviews on the company’s website say they had to wait up to 2 weeks.
The person receives digital and printable results. If they test positive for any STIs, they can connect with Everlywell’s network of independent physicians for advice and treatment.
This test has a list price of $169. However, people can subscribe for twice-yearly tests and save money per kit. They can also use their FSA or HSA to pay for this test.
Best convenient herpes test: MyLAB Box
- Collection method: finger prick blood sample
- Results: within 2–5 days
- Follow-up care: free consultation with a doctor if test results are positive
- Cost: $89
- Pro: the doctor may prescribe treatment if test results are positive
- Con: only tests for HSV-2
People can order at-home herpes tests from MyLAB Box. These kits contain instructions, a specimen bag, and a prepaid return envelope. Users may find this test convenient because of its quick turnaround for results and the option to book a free consultation and get treatment.
It is also one of the more affordable tests available online.
Once a person receives their collection kit, they can collect their sample using the instructions. They can then use the prepaid envelope to send it to the laboratory.
People should receive their results within 2–5 days. If the test is positive, they can book a free consultation with a doctor to discuss their results and treatment options. The doctor may then prescribe treatment.
This at-home test only works for people who wish to test for genital herpes. The company does not offer test kits for oral herpes.
The kit costs $89 as a stand-alone test, but the company also markets other kits that test for different infections. For example, if a person also wishes to test for other STIs, they can purchase the Total Box – 14 Panel option or the Uber Box – 8 Panel option.
Best affordable herpes test: HealthLabs
- Collection method: blood sample
- Results: within 1-3 days
- Follow-up care: no information available at time of publishing
- Cost: $45 and $79
- Pro: does not require appointments and accepts walk-ins
- Con: requires a visit to a laboratory for a healthcare professional to collect the sample
HealthLabs offers laboratory-based herpes tests. These may be the best option for people who do not have health insurance and those working with small budgets.
After placing an order, the person receives a laboratory requisition form, which they need to print out and present at a laboratory. The company claims it has 4,500 laboratory locations, and individuals should receive their test results within 2–3 business days.
HealthLabs has three herpes tests available for purchase:
- a test for HSV-1, which costs $45
- a test for HSV-2, which costs $45
- a test for HSV-1 and HSV-2, which costs $79
People may also order at-home tests for other STIs, including gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV.
Best for early detection: Priority STD
- Collection method: blood test or urine sample
- Results: within 1–3 days
- Follow-up care: phone consultation with a partner physician who may prescribe treatment for $65
- Cost: $99 for standard herpes testing and $198 for early-detection testing
- Pro: offers tests for early detection of herpes
- Con: requires a visit to a laboratory
Priority STD offers three lab-based herpes detection tests: A standard herpes test, costing $99, and a herpes early detection test, costing $198. The latter can detect the presence of the herpes simplex virus as early as 10 days after exposure.
This may be suitable for people who would prefer to quickly seek diagnosis and treatment for herpes.
To order either herpes test, a person must access the company website and enter their ZIP code to find their nearest testing center.
The company claims it has over 4,000 private test centers across the United States.
After ordering the herpes test, a person can walk into their local center to receive the testing. An appointment is not necessary.
The test procedure involves a simple blood test and urine sample, which typically takes a matter of minutes. A person can expect to receive their online test results within 1–3 days.
In the event of a positive result, a person can have a phone consultation with a partner physician, who may prescribe treatment at an additional cost of $65.
Best for quick results: STDcheck
- Collection method: blood test
- Results: within 1–2 days
- Follow-up care: consultation with a doctor and a written prescription for $95
- Cost: $45 for HSV-1 or HSV-2
- Pro: rapid results
- Con: requires a visit to a laboratory
STDcheck offers tests for both HSV-1 and HSV-2. A person can order an HSV-2 test for $45. There is also an option to order a test package that tests for 10 different STIs.
This option is best for people who need their results quickly.
To order a test, a person must enter their ZIP code on the company website to find their nearest testing center. The company claims it has over 4,500 test centers nationwide, making them a convenient option for most people.
A person needs to attend their local test center for a blood test. They should then receive their online results within 1–2 days. Anyone who receives a positive result is eligible for a phone consultation with a STDcheck doctor. The doctor may prescribe treatments at their discretion.
The table below compares the six at-home herpes tests for cost, follow-up care, and more.
|LetsGetChecked||Everlywell||MyLAB Box||HealthLabs||Priority STD||STD Check|
|Timeline||2–5 days||5–7 days||2–5 days||1–3 days||1–3 days||1–2 days|
|Collection method||finger-prick blood sample||finger-prick blood sample|
and vaginal swab or urine sample
|finger-prick blood sample||blood sample||blood test or urine sample||blood sample|
|Follow-up care||contact from a LetsGetChecked nurse||contact from an Everlywell board-certified physician||free session with a doctor||not specified||phone session with a partner physician||session with an STDcheck doctor|
People who are considering buying a home test may wish to seek advice from a pharmacist on which test is likely to be best for them. The pharmacist may also be able to show them how to collect the sample at home to prevent inaccuracies.
People who are looking for an at-home herpes test should consider the following before making a purchase:
- Clear information: The company should offer all the information that a person needs for testing, including clear and complete instructions.
- Consultations: Some companies offer consultations for people who wish to discuss their sexual health concerns, particularly if they receive a positive result.
- Treatment plan: Online providers may suggest further testing or treatment depending on the individual’s results and concerns.
- Certified laboratories: Some companies work with laboratories with
Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)certification. The CDCclaims that the CLIA regulations “establish quality standards for laboratory testing.”
Herpes is an infection with the herpes simplex virus (HSV). The virus spreads through contact with moist areas of the skin, such as the mouth and genitals.
Tests can make people aware that they have the virus, encouraging them to take steps to reduce the likelihood of passing it to others.
HSV-1 causes oral herpes, which may develop after exposure to the virus in saliva or on skin surfaces. Many people do not experience symptoms, and some develop the virus from nonsexual contact during childhood. Sometimes, HSV-1 can also cause genital herpes through oral sex.
Some at-home tests may check for just one type of HSV, whereas others may test for both types.
People who have active herpes lesions can undergo a swab test. However, if the lesion is small or has started healing, there might not be enough of the virus for the test to detect. Due to this, there is also a risk of a false-negative result.
Anyone who thinks they might have had exposure to HSV and wants to take a test for reassurance despite a lack of symptoms will need to test for antibodies in the blood instead.
According to the American Sexual Health Association, people should wait 12–16 weeks from the time of sexual contact before taking a test. The test checks whether or not the body has developed antibodies for HSV-1 or HSV-2, which may take some time to become detectable after exposure.
People who are sexually active or share needles with others may require regular testing.
Individuals with partners with herpes and who do not use barrier methods such as condoms each time they engage in sexual activity should also test for herpes regularly.
Some people may prefer to order their at-home tests from online providers since this does not require them to leave their homes.
A 2020 study notes that at-home kits may also benefit those who may not access routine healthcare.
There are two types of home tests: self-collection and laboratory-based.
After purchasing a test collection kit from an online provider, individuals receive all the tools they need to perform the test at home. They collect a sample by following the instructions in the kit and then return it to the company or its laboratory for analysis.
After purchasing the test from an online provider, the person receives a laboratory requisition form, which they present at a testing site. A healthcare professional takes the required sample, and the individual receives their result within a few days.
HSV-1 or HSV-2 test results may be negative or positive. These results depend on the type of test people take.
A research review on the diagnosis of HSV-1 and HSV-2 concludes that using blood tests to diagnose genital herpes may be inappropriate because positive results may be due to chronic infection, whereas negative results may overlook recent infection.
According to the American Sexual Health Association, other viruses carried by the person in their blood may cross-react with the herpes virus, causing a false positive herpes result. These viruses include the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) which causes chickenpox or cytomegalovirus (CMV).
Other factors which may determine the correct outcome of a herpes test result
Four types of tests can confirm the presence of the HSV-1 or HSV-2 infection. These are:
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
This is also known as a viral DNA test or HSV DNA test. The healthcare practitioner examines the sore sample to look for the DNA of HSV-1 and HSV-2 to determine which virus is causing the person’s infection.
These tests are
A healthcare practitioner collects a sample from the person’s skin sore and sends it to a laboratory to see if the virus grows. This type of test is useful early in an outbreak when the sore is open.
A positive result indicates that the person has an HSV infection. This may be an initial outbreak or a recurring one.
A negative result indicates that the test sample did not contain HSV. A negative result does not always mean that the person is free from the herpes virus. For example, a false negative may occur if the lesion is small or has started to heal.
A healthcare practitioner scrapes cells from the person’s sore to look for characteristics of herpes infection. A clinician examines the cells at the doctor’s office. There is no need to send the sample to a laboratory.
A positive result indicates the person has an infection. A negative result indicates that they do not have a herpes infection.
Herpes simplex antibody tests determine the presence of the HSV-1 or HSV-2 virus. A clinician detects these antibodies in the person’s blood or sore sample.
A positive result means that the person has HSV antibodies or had an outbreak or past infection. A negative result indicates that the person does not have the virus.
Before ordering a sample collection kit, people should consider the advantages and disadvantages of using at-home herpes tests. These include:
- only require online consultations with a doctor or nurse
- testing occurs at the same laboratories that the doctors use
- results are usually available within a few days
- confidentiality is guaranteed, with individuals receiving their tests in discreet packaging
- collecting a blood sample at home may be difficult
- there is a possibility of misinterpreting the test results
- consultations with a doctor may only be available if the individual receives a positive result
- there are few laboratory-based options
Anyone who has sexual contact with someone who has received a herpes diagnosis should contact a doctor as soon as possible.
People who have received a positive test result may also wish to consider seeking medical advice.
Currently, herpes is not curable, but doctors can prescribe medications to reduce the frequency and severity of the symptoms. This may help lower the chance of the infection spreading to other individuals.
Below are some common questions about at-home herpes tests.
How common is herpes?
The CDC states that more than
Herpes spreads through oral, anal, and vaginal sex. People can reduce the risk of transmitting herpes to another person by using condoms or dental dams during sex and avoiding having sex when they are experiencing an outbreak of herpes.
When should a person test for herpes?
The CDC also recommends testing if a person experiences what could be a herpes outbreak.
How can people test for herpes?
A person can ask for a herpes test at any sexual health clinic or a doctor’s office. A healthcare professional will either swab a blister or draw a blood sample.
At-home herpes tests often require a blood sample through a finger prick.
Once a person receives their test results, they should contact a doctor to discuss treatment options, if necessary.
At-home herpes tests may be the preferred option for people who feel uncomfortable discussing their sexual health with a doctor and those who are unable to visit a healthcare facility.
Many companies sell at-home tests. Before purchasing a test, an individual may wish to compare the costs, how long it takes the companies to issue the results and their instructions for collecting the sample.
Some people may have difficulty collecting their samples at home and interpreting the test results. Some companies may only offer consultations to individuals who receive a positive test.
There are different types of herpes tests a person may wish to take. People should take into consideration that any test has room for error and those who receive a positive herpes test result should contact a doctor to discuss treatment options or a follow-up test.