Best At-Home Herpes Tests

LetsGetChecked is our pick for best at-home herpes test

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Most doctors only test for herpes if someone has symptoms or if they are at high risk, and typically do not recommend routine herpes screening of asymptomatic people because of the risk of false-positive results. Still, concern about transmitting the virus to a partner is one reason why some people want at-home herpes testing. At-home herpes tests also may be a good option for those uncomfortable discussing the topic with their healthcare provider or whose doctors do not perform asymptomatic testing.

People who are concerned about genital herpes need to be tested for both HSV-1 and HSV-2. We've researched the best at-home herpes tests and rounded up the perfect options based on privacy, accuracy of results, price, reputation, and more.

Best At-Home Herpes Tests of 2023

Best Overall : LetsGetChecked


LetsGetChecked Logo

Courtesy of LetsGetChecked

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Key Specs
  • Cost: HSV-1 & 2 test $119; discount if you subscribe to receive tests every 3, 6, or 12 months; nurse consultation $39
  • Test Type: Finger prick
  • Time for Results: 2 to 5 days
Why We Chose It

LetsGetChecked tests are broadly available at drug stores and online. However, we chose it because it offers a discount if you want to undergo repeat testing. This can be useful if you are at high risk of being exposed to herpes.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Good price, particularly for repeat testing

  • True at-home testing

  • Test results completely anonymous and cannot be linked back to you

  • Flexible spending account (FSA) and health savings account (HSA) payment accepted

  • Support from nurses available

  • 24-hour customer support line

Cons
  • Collecting blood sample at home may be difficult

  • Improper sample collection could affect results

  • Some website information inaccurate

  • Counseling done by nurses, not doctors

Overview

The LetsGetChecked Home Herpes Test is a real at-home herpes test for both HSV-1 and HSV-2. You use a lancet (a small needle) to prick your finger and then collect the blood in the provided tube, which needs to be shipped back in the included envelope. Blood should be collected before 9 a.m. and taken immediately to the carrier for shipping. Tests should not be sent on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Results are ready in two to five days and accessed through a secure online portal.

Nurses are available for consultation, but only if you test positive for herpes. A single kit from LetsGetChecked can be purchased for around $119 at its website and other online sites, and certain drug stores. For people interested in repeat testing, a subscription can be purchased for as low as $84 per kit. This could be useful for people who don’t know when they were exposed or are at high risk of herpes infection.

The LetsGetChecked Home Herpes Test webpage states HSV-1 is most commonly associated with oral transmission, but it's important to understand it can also cause genital infections.

Best for Service Extras : STDcheck.com


STDcheck.com

 STDcheck.com

Key Specs
  • Cost: HSV-1 & 2 test $79
  • Test Type: Lab visit
  • Time for Results: 1 to 2 days
Why We Chose It

STDcheck.com offers several options for at-home herpes testing. What’s notable about the site is that it lets you send online anonymous text alerts to sexual partners who might need to be tested. That’s not as good as talking with them in person, but it can help with some awkward conversations.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Ability to alert sexual partners by anonymous text

  • Results within 1-2 days

  • Tests run at the same labs doctors use

Cons
  • Cheaper single HSV type test may not find all genital herpes

  • Doctor consultations only available if you test positive

  • Insurance not accepted

Overview

STDcheck.com allows people to order sexually transmitted infection (STI) tests online and then go to a local lab for testing (so it’s not technically at-home, but you still don’t have to go to your primary care physician).

Over 4,500 testing locations are available nationwide, and most people will be able to find a site that is convenient for them. After the test is ordered, you go to the lab and have your blood drawn. The lab sends it for analysis and, in a few days, you can access your results by phone or online.

The test for HSV-1 and HSV-2 is $79, and a variety of other, more comprehensive STI testing options are also available. Telephone doctor consultations are free for individuals who test positive. (We do not recommend the HSV-2 only test, as any genital herpes infections caused by HSV-1 would not be detected.)

One benefit of this service: The website also offers a tool to send anonymous text alerts to previous sexual partners to suggest they get tested.

Best for New Symptoms : PlushCare


PlushCare logo

 PlushCare

Key Specs
  • Cost: Membership $15 a month, pay only a copay for telehealth visits with insurance; without insurance, initial visit is $129, follow-ups $69.
  • Test Type: Lab visit
  • Time for Results: 3 to 5 days
Why We Chose It

If you think you may have herpes symptoms for the first time, blood tests are not accurate. It’s best to see a doctor—and PlushCare offers that from home because it's a telemedicine provider.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Accepts most major insurance

  • A doctor may be able to diagnose you with herpes without testing

  • Can ask doctor about sexual health concerns

  • Service can provide other online healthcare

Cons
  • A doctor visit is required to access testing

  • You’re not actually buying a herpes test. If your doctor doesn’t think you need one, it may not be offered

Overview

When you use PlushCare for STI testing, you’re not purchasing an at-home herpes test. Instead, you are making a virtual appointment with a doctor to discuss your concerns about herpes and other STIs. Then, if the doctor thinks a test is warranted, they will write an order for a test and send you to fill it. Results are usually communicated to the doctor within three to five days, and then the doctor will follow up with you by telehealth appointment and provide treatment or further testing as appropriate.

PlushCare’s website states that it is in-network with most major health insurance plans, including Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross, Cigna, Humana, UnitedHealthcare, and many others. New PlushCare customers have access to a 30-day free trial, and after that, membership is $15 per month. If you have insurance that PlushCare accepts, the cost of a visit is the cost of your copay. Without insurance, visits cost $129. If a test is required, it may come at an additional cost, depending on your insurance status and whether testing is covered.

PlushCare is a good option for people who want to discuss their herpes and other STI risks with a health professional. It is not a good option for people interested in at-home herpes testing because they’re not comfortable talking about sexual health with their doctor.

Best Price : HealthLabs.com


HealthLabs.com

 HealthLabs.com

Key Specs
  • Cost: Herpes Type 1 & 2 Panel $79
  • Test Type: Lab visit
  • Time for Results: 1 to 3 days
Why We Chose It

HealthLabs.com offers a price guarantee. If you find the test that you ordered for a lower price elsewhere, it will match that price and provide a 10% discount.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Price match guarantee

  • Variety of testing options

  • Tests are run at the same labs doctors use

Cons
  • Cheaper single HSV type tests may not find all genital herpes

  • No medical consultation, but help interpreting results

Overview

With HealthLabs.com, you order and pay for your test online and then go to a local lab to have your blood drawn. Thousands of testing locations are available around the country, and you should be able to find a site near you. Some locations may allow you to make an appointment in advance for testing. Then when you arrive, they will draw your blood and send it off for testing.

The least expensive herpes test that looks for HSV-1 and HSV-2 is $79, and a variety of other, more comprehensive STI testing options are also available. FSA cards can be used for purchase.

When your test results are available, generally within 1-3 days, you will be sent email instructions to log into your secure online account and access your results. Medical consultations are not available with this company, although it will offer help understanding your test results over the phone or through live chat.

Final Verdict

Thanks to its low price (especially for test subscriptions) and its status as one of the only fully at-home herpes tests out there, we recommend LetsGetChecked as our top pick. The process for sending in your test is pretty straight forward and you'll get results back rather quickly. LetsGetChecked tests for both HSV-1 and HSV-2, and if you are at a high risk of getting herpes, its discount for repeat testing is really beneficial.

Compare the Best At-Home Herpes Tests

Company Cost Test Type Time for Results
LetsGetChecked: Best Overall $119 Finger prick 2-5 days
STDcheck.com: Best for Service Extras $79 Lab visit 1-2 days
PlushCare: Best for New Symptoms $15 monthly membership; + copay or $129 self-pay Lab visit 3-5 days
HealthLabs.com: Best Price $79, price match guarantee Lab visit 1-3 days

Guide for Choosing the Best At-Home Herpes Test

Is an At-Home Herpes Test Right for You?

At-home tests can give you valuable insights into your health. Many at-home herpes tests use the same tests that would be ordered at a doctor’s office, and some even use the same laboratories. Often, home tests are the first stop before you head to your doctor's office. If you have any concerning symptoms, regardless of the results of an at-home test, you should talk to your physician about them.

Pros of at-home herpes tests:

  • Convenience: With an at-home test, you don't have to go through the hassle of making appointments and taking time off of work, etc.
  • Affordability: Depending on insurance coverage, paying for an at-home test may be a cheaper option than an in-person test.
  • Privacy: At-home kits take the potential embarrassment out of getting tested.

Cons of at-home herpes tests:

  • Limited information: Healthcare professionals may not be available to help you interpret your results
  • Advanced testing may be required: A positive or inconclusive result on a home test may prompt a visit to your doctor and further testing.
  • Limited insurance coverage: Few at-home herpes tests are covered by insurance

Comparing At-Home Herpes Tests

Since there are several at-home herpes tests available, choosing one can be difficult. You'll want to consider whether you want a true at-home test—where you collect a blood specimen via finger prick—or if you're okay with popping into a lab for the blood draw portion of the test. Other factors you should consider before purchasing a test include:

  • Cost: Tests can cost over $100, but some providers accept insurance or FSA/HSA funds.
  • Virus types tested: We recommend using tests that identify both HSV-1 & 2, not single-type tests. You may also find it more cost-effective to purchase a comprehensive STI panel test.
  • How long it takes to get results: Most of these companies get you test results in a few days, but if time is of the essence, look for the company with the quickest turnaround.
  • Health consult included?: Are you especially interested in receiving a health consult or help in interpreting your results?
  • Shipping and privacy: Most at-home healthcare companies offer discreet packaging. If privacy is a concern, reach out to the company for clarification about its policies.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Herpes?

Herpes is a general term most often used to describe genital infection with Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV-1) or 2 (HSV-2). Both viruses can affect the genitals, causing genital herpes. HSV-1 is responsible for most cases of oral herpes. Although historically HSV-1 has been referred to as the cold sore virus and HSV-2 as the genital herpes virus, a growing number of genital herpes infections have been caused by HSV-1.

How Does an At-Home Herpes Test Work?

At-home herpes tests take advantage of the fact that blood tests for herpes are widely available through commercial lab-testing sites. The vast majority of at-home herpes tests use the same tests that would be ordered at the doctor’s office, provided by the same laboratories. However, instead of going to a doctor, the tests are ordered online. This can be a good option for people who are uncomfortable discussing sexual behavior with their doctor or whose doctor is not willing to test for herpes.

Are At-Home Herpes Tests Reliable?

At-home herpes tests are reasonably reliable at detecting established herpes infections. Useful at-home herpes tests are the same type-specific tests that would be ordered in a doctor’s office. If you are newly experiencing sores and think you might have acquired herpes, you would be better off going to the doctor for a physical exam. Should you choose to use an at-home test, we recommend you consult a doctor to interpret test results, confirm results, and advise regarding the best ways to manage herpes.

How much do at-home herpes tests cost?

Most insurance companies do not cover herpes testing at home or in person. At-home tests cost around $80 to $120, although some companies offer a discount for people who subscribe to regular testing. If your insurance covers herpes testing, consider using one of the companies that bill insurance. In some instances, you may be reimbursed by your insurance company for testing.

Does Medicare cover at-home herpes tests?

Medicare does not cover at-home herpes tests. Medicare does not cover herpes testing, although it will cover testing for other STIs. It is possible that some at-home herpes tests can be covered by private insurance, and Nurx.com accepts Medicaid, but only in three states (California, Illinois, and Texas). People who want their herpes test covered by insurance may find it easier to go to their doctor or local STI clinic.

Methodology

The at-home herpes test providers chosen for this list had to meet certain criteria. First and foremost, the test used to detect the virus had to be highly reliable. That means laboratories had to use one of the type-specific herpes tests considered to be the gold-standard for herpes blood tests. (Herpes blood tests that are not type-specific are less reliable.) Test kits had to look for HSV-1 and HSV-2 because both virus types can cause genital infections, and HSV-2 testing alone can be misleading. The company had to offer counseling or access to a doctor when results were received to enable people to seek appropriate care.

Finally, results from all providers had to be returned in a secure and timely manner. As most people interested in at-home herpes tests are doing so because of privacy concerns, companies had to take those concerns seriously.

More than 20 companies that offer at-home herpes tests were reviewed for this list. Tests were only eligible for inclusion if they met all of the above requirements.

Closeup of couple with relationship problems having emotional conversation while lying in bed at home

silverkblack / Getty Images

Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. World Health Organization. Herpes simplex virus.

By Elizabeth Boskey, PhD
Elizabeth Boskey, PhD, MPH, CHES, is a social worker, adjunct lecturer, and expert writer in the field of sexually transmitted diseases.