After seven years of doing our western blot study, Quest laboratories will no longer transport our western blot samples for us. LabCorp labs will not draw your blood for the blot either. However, if you live in a city or can travel to a city that has an AnyLabTestNow, we can use them to draw your blood, spin and ship it. They have been very helpful. There is a minimal charge for that – 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. You will need a health care provider to order the test for you, you cannot order it yourself. You can use your regular clinician or I can be the clinician ordering the test.
People generally want to get the western blot to get the most accurate herpes antibody testing available. Often, they wish to confirm or deny a low positive result. We know that about 50% of people who test positive in the range of 1.1 to 3.5 don’t actually have herpes and this test will help sort that out. It is a Center for Disease Control recommendation in the 2015 STD Treatment Guidelines that everyone with an IgG result in this low positive range obtain a western blot or other very reliable confirmatory test. Herpes expert all agree that the western blot is by far the best confirmatory test.
Or perhaps someone has had a negative result on the screening test and because that test misses some infections (8% of HSV 2 and 30% of HSV 1), they want the best test available to be more certain about their negative status. Or maybe someone has had a higher positive result but has never had symptoms and they want to be certain the test result is correct. All of these are reasons to obtain a herpes western blot. It is considered the gold standard of herpes testing. But it is not easily available.
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 just have to follow the pretty clear steps listed below, if you want our staff to be the ordering clinicians for you.
- Go to the video consult tab on our website and set up an appointment with me, via evisit. You will be given three options for a time to talk to me. If none of the ones offered is good for you, you will have a chance to select others. This conversation 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. This must be given to be part of the study to pay for the western blot.The cost of the western blot test itself and the consult with me is $345. 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 on it’s 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 come into the site and we will talk, face to face. for no longer than 20 minutes. If you for some reason absolutely cannot do the video format, we can do this via a phone call but video is my preferred method to do this. It is essential 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 with you the results of your previous IgG testing if you have had one done – I need the specific numbers you received as well as the name of the laboratory that did the original testing, if possible. 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.
- In about three weeks, with your specific permission, I will send you an email with the results of your western blot. 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. But we know how to resolve that, based on the timing of your most recent sexual exposures and the timing of the testing. It may require another test to be done later.
- If you have questions once you receive your results, you will have an opportunity to ask me some brief questions via email.
The results of any previous testing you have had done as well as your western blot results will be entered into our study database, with your permission, without any identifying information about you. We hope you will participate in our study both for your own information and for information about the accuracy of these tests to help others in the future.