Thank you for publishing the article in Personal Perspectives from an older adult recently diagnosed with genital herpes. My daughter recently told me she had herpes and I’ve been scouring the net looking for resources to help her and educate myself. It was good to read a story that shows herpes affects people in all stages of life. Please don’t think this a silly question, but after reading this story and talking with my daughter, I wonder if I should get tested for herpes, or am I too old to bother?
Your question is not silly at all. No one is ever too old to test for herpes. However, you first want to consider why you want to get tested.
In a recent issue of The Helper, Dr. Rhoda Morrow, a noted expert in the area of herpes testing, addressed the issue of testing for those who have no symptoms of infection. As she commented: “My first question is, are you clear on why you are getting this test? If you’re asymptomatic, and in a long-term monogamous partnership, why are you interested in herpes and should your partner be involved in this testing? If you have a new partner who wants to know your status, that’s legitimate. I think both partners should be tested in that case.”
So the question for you is not, am I too old for testing, but rather, why do I want to test. Would you do something differently in your life if your test was positive? From your letter we are unable to surmise if you have any of the reasons Dr. Morrow mentions for testing. If you do, it may be a good idea to get tested. However, there is nothing prohibiting you from testing if you simply want to test out of sheer curiosity. If nothing else it will allow you to know your status.
If you do decide to test, make sure you get the right test. Ask your healthcare provider for a type-specific IgG antibody test. You might also specifically mention that you do not want an IgM test, which is not recommended as an effective screening test.
You can visit the ASHA website for more specific information about herpes testing, or check out the herpes blood test guide. You may want to bring it with you to your healthcare provider for reference, so you can refer to it when requesting your test.