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Molly Maloof, MD

Director of Clinical Content

Herpes 1

I've recently was diagnosed with herpes 1. I've always been prone to getting cold sores. I've never tested positive for herpes until now. I'm confused as to why I tested positive now and not years ago.
  • Female | 34 years old

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It's wierd because everytime I went to the doctor for my exams I always ask them to check for everything including stds.
The most likely answer is that no one tested you for herpes in the past. Most physicians do not test routinely; only when it is suspected. The modern tests are much more accurate than they were when you were younger.

Most cold sores are a form of herpes probably given to you by an unsuspecting relative's kiss when you were a child. Since social media was in it's infancy then, the relative was probably unaware of the cold sore' contagiousness.
ps. correction mis-type..can resolve itself within 2 weeks !! not two days !!
Joseph A. Pineda
Herpes is as you know a virus...and for that reason it runs a course that if even left untreated will resolve within 2 days and the lesions will "dry" out. A negative culture only tells us that the virus was not sheding at the time the culture was obtained. A positive culture is diagnostic 100% of the time of one of the two types of Herpes...Type I which is the oral type and Type II which is the genital one. Obtaining Igm and IgG antibodies can be a bit more precise in making a diagnosis. A titre rising in two separate samples of the IgM antibodies show it is a new and recent infection. A titre positive of IgG simply shows that you have been exposed to the virus sometime in the that the type I or Type II. Labs can make a distinction but usually not worth the expense since the treatment is the same. Any factor such as exposure to extra violet radiation as in sun tan booths or simply sun bathing can be a precipitating cause for a new out break. A weakness in the persons immune system can also trigger an out break if one has been exposed to the virus in the past. Type I ( oral) is rather infrequent and type II (genital) is generally much more common and in some cases even cyclical.

If your partner has any oral lesions and has genital contact with you he can potentially inoculate your genitals with the virus and the symptoms are just as painful.

Certainly a recent exposure to a partner that has been infected with the virus and one has sex with that person is how a new infection is most apt to happen.
Joseph A. Pineda
This is HSV 1,

which is very


HSV 2 is the

genital herpes.
Each year when I get my well woman exam, I always get my blood drawn so they can check for everything. I've never got a positive result on anything until now. That's why I'm confused. Even tho I've been getting cold sores since middle school, I still don't understand why I didn't get a positive result before.
By virtue of the fact that you "have been prone to getting cold sores" means that you have had herpes or HSV 1 since your very first cold sore. Many patients who have cold sores have never been told that cold sores are caused by the HSV 1 virus. You did not mention how you had been tested for herpes in the past and were found to be negative. If these prior tests were viral cultures they are notoriously negative unless they are obtained when the cold sore just starts. Regardless the good news is that there are relatively inexpensive generic pills you can take at the first sign of a cold sore that can dramatically decrease the pain and duration of the outbreak. The bad news is that HSV 1 is highly contagious and you can easily pass it on to anyone you kiss when you are actively shedding virus. Good luck.
I haven't had a outbreak in a while. When I get a cold sore I use over the counter products. I only get cold sores on my mouth. Is it possible for me to have a negative result while the virus is dormant?
It is difficult to determine when you actually got the infection. Of course now the important thing is getting the treatment(anti-viral drug).
Victor Shabanah
Once you have the Herpes Virus, it is dormant until it flares up with Cold sores, HPV1 or Genital sores HPV2 or Shingles , HPV3. Any test would show that you have antibodies so it does not matter when you were tested. Early treatment can prevent further outbreaks.