Q: Do doctors misdiagnose herpes?
A: Yes. It wasn’t until the 1940s that herpes was found to be an actual virus. Then, 1960’s research started to isolate the virus into two types that we know today: HSV-1 and HSV-2. Although it is said that the virus was misdiagnosed all the way through the 1970s, the truth is, it’s still being misdiagnosed.
It used to be that doctors would diagnose herpes based on classic presentations of painful, itching blisters. This “classic presentation” is now debunked due to the alarming number of people who never elicit such classic symptoms.
Type-specific blood testing, which enables us to differentiate between HSV-1 and HSV-2, was not available until more recent years. The older tests could only reveal a positive or negative result for the herpes virus.
This was extremely limiting in regards to helping patients determine their level of risk and how they might have acquired the infection. Doctors still misdiagnose herpes all the time.
Herpes has been called the great masquerader because it can look like so many different things. We need to get doctors on board with proper diagnosis of herpes so that we as patients can be empowered, educated individuals.