I’m here to help you with issues surrounding genital herpes. I’ve had 35 years of experience as a nurse practitioner, specializing in the care of people who have herpes or who are worried about having herpes.
Do you have questions about genital herpes? Many people do! It can be a confusing topic, and sometimes, clinicians do not have up to date information. Are you confused about how to interpret an antibody test that you’ve taken? I can help with that too. Do you live in Oregon and need to obtain a prescription for herpes medication? I can help you with that as well.
Herpes Western Blot
Herpes experts agree that the herpes western blot is by far the best confirmatory antibody test. People want to obtain the western blot to get the most accurate herpes antibody testing available. Often, they wish to confirm or deny an IgG result. We know that about 50% of people who test positive with an index value (the number associated with your test result) of 1.1 to 3.5 don’t have herpes, and this test will help sort that out. Some herpes antibody tests don’t give an index value, so you may want the western blot for that reason. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that everyone with an IgG result in this low positive range (1.1 to 3.5) obtain a western blot or another very reliable confirmatory test. Also, a research study that came out in early 2020 found that even some people with higher index values who have no symptoms have false-positive IgG tests.
Perhaps someone has had a negative result on their IgG herpes antibody test. Because we know that the IgG misses some infections (8% of HSV 2 infections and 30% of HSV 1 infections), they want the best test available to be sure about their negative status.
Online appointments are 20 minutes long. The telemedicine provider we use, eVisit, will ask for a credit card number when you make the appointment. The cost of obtaining the western blot from me is as follows: the test itself, with the credit card charge of 3% is $262, the consultation for a 20-minute visit is $85, and the use of the Evisit platform, spread among users for a month, is $3. The total charged for a visit including western blot will be $350. I will charge your credit card the appropriate amount at the end of our discussion. The other expenses you will incur to get this test is a fee for having your blood drawn and whatever shipping costs to UW from your location. The UW will not bill insurance for those not living in the state of Washington and I do not bill insurance for my services. Remember that you can also work with the University of Washington and your own health care provider to obtain this test. You don’t have to do this with me. If you have insurance that would cover an office visit with your provider to get this test done, that may be financially better for you to do. I have no mechanism for billing your insurance company and the University of Washington will not bill out of state insurers either.
Please make sure you are using the right time zone. If for some reason, you can’t make the appointment and cancel more than 24 hours in advance, you won’t have to pay for the appointment. It may be helpful to write down questions that you have ahead of time so that you get all of your concerns addressed. And don’t worry if you get a little teary during the conversation, that happens often and it’s just fine.
Creating an Account
To obtain the video service, you must sign up on eVisit with a username and login by clicking the link at the bottom of this page. If you have already created an account on this site for the forum, it will not work on the eVisit page.
*You DO NOT need to create an account on this website’s question forum to be able to use the eVisit website for video consultations.*
Steps for doing the western blot
If you want to pursue this, here are the steps to obtaining the test. Our physical clinic is now officially closed, so there is no one to talk to on the phone about this to set it up initially. You have to follow the precise steps listed below if you want our staff to be the ordering clinicians for you.
• Set up an appointment with me via eVisit. Click on the green button below that says eVisit. When you get there, you will be given three times of day options to talk to me. If none of those offered is right for you, you will have a chance to pick others. This conversation between us is not optional – we need to do this together as part of the nursing standard of care guidelines. The eVisit site will then ask you some basic questions about your health history, and it will also request your credit card information. While you are waiting for your appointment with me, you can call the University of Washington and ask them to send you the herpes western blot kit. You can tell them you are working with me. Their phone number is 206-685-6066. If you have your kit with you or it’s on its way when we talk, this will speed things up for you.
• At the time and date you have chosen, you will go back into the eVisit website and enter the “waiting room.” I will join you and we will talk face to face for 20 minutes. If you, for some reason, absolutely cannot do the video format, we can do this via a phone call. Still, the video is my preferred method to do this. It is really important that you come into the site at the chosen time as there are often appointments booked back to back, and everyone deserves to start as on-time as possible. Please have the results of your previous IgG testing, if you have had one done. I need the specific numbers of your results as well as the name of the laboratory that did the original testing and the date of your most recent test. I will also need the dates of your most recent sexual contacts, and if you know the herpes testing status of your partners, that will be even better. I will also ask you about any symptoms that you might have had.
• I will ask for your permission to use the results of your most recent IgG test and your western blot results, in our study, with no identifying information about you. We hope you will participate in our study, both for your information and for details about the accuracy of these tests to help others in the future.
Quest and LabCorp will not draw your blood for the western blot. However, if you live in a city or can travel to a city that has an AnyLabTestNow, you can use them to draw your blood, spin, and ship it. They have been quite accommodating. There is a minimal charge for their lab services – usually around $40. You will also need to pay to have your sample shipped to the University of Washington. In addition to anylabtestnow, I am aware of additional labs in some cities that will draw and spin down your blood sample for you.
• In one to three weeks, with your permission, I will send you an email with the results of your western blot – it is an actual scan of the lab test result. The possible results are positive, negative, or indeterminate. There are no numbers associated with western blot results. Sometimes (about 8% of the time), the test cannot sort out your result, thus an indeterminate result. But we know how to resolve that, based on the timing of your most recent sexual exposures relative to the timing of the testing. It may require another test later.
• If you have questions, once you receive your results, you will have an opportunity to ask me questions via email.