How to get the Western Blot test done.

Return to HHP Main page

Updated Information 2017-03-16

Western Blot for herpes testing appears to no longer be available through Quest Labs. 

The link to the University of Washington website is -  all the info you need is on that website too.

The information below about sending your own sample may, or may not, be applicable today as rules and regulation about shipping liquids has changed. Check out that aspect by calling UW before going to too much trouble in getting your blood drawn.

Posted by "CL" Aug-25-2003

Many people have trouble getting the University of Washington's Western Blot Herpes test because they can't find a lab or a doctor that will "do" the test for them. 

Any doctor can order the test, but the trick is getting the blood specimen shipped to the University of Washington. The good news is that  you can ship the blood to the University of Washington yourself. 

However, you can't just throw a blood vial in a box and drop it in a mailbox. The blood specimen must be packed in
accordance to the US Department of Transportation's shipping  rules for diagnostic specimens.

The University of Washington will simplify this process by sending you a diagnostic specimen shipping kit at no charge. 

The University of Washington charges $104.00 for the test. Also, there will be the cost of seeing your doctor to get a test  request order written and the cost of getting the blood drawn.

Here's an overview of what I had to do to get this test done:

1. Call the University of Washington's Community service office and tell them that you want to get the Western Blot Herpes test and you need a diagnostic specimen shipping kit to be sent out to you.

Don't worry, the box does NOT say herpes test kit or any other such thing. It comes in a plain brown box. 

Their phone number is (206) 598-6066 or 800-713-5198  and their web page is here:

They will get your name and address and send you the diagnostic  specimen shipping kit as well as blood draw instructions which you will take to the doctor. They will e-mail the blood draw instructions if you desire. This way you can print the instructions out and see your doctor while you are waiting for the shipping kit to arrive 
in the mail.

The diagnostic specimen shipping kit consists of the following items
blood vial
diagnostic specimen plastic bag
freezer pack
styrofoam container
cardboard box
biohazard sticker
diagnostic specimen sticker
blood draw instructions

When you are on the phone with them verbally confirm with them that they are sending you all of the above items. If you ask, they will also give you instructions on how to to ask your doctor for the Western Blot test and how to  pack the blood.

Take the Western Blot herpes blood draw instructions to your doctor. The instructions consist of 3 pieces of paper:
Patient information sheet 
Blood draw information - make sure to keep this, it contains the address of where you will be shipping your blood
University of Washington Lab Test Request Form

3. I left my doctor's office with 2 pieces of paper:
A red top blood draw order with Quest Diagnostics Lab
University of Washington Lab Test Request Form which doctor filled in with appropriate information.

Please note that you don't have to have the blood drawn through Quest Diagnostics Lab. Any local lab will be able to do a red top blood draw. Quest is a preferred provider on my insurance, so that's where I had it  done.

4. Once you have received your diagnostic specimen shipping kit and have the lab blood draw order and University of Washington Lab test order from you are doctor you are ready to get your blood drawn and ship it to the University of Washington. 

I advise that you do a little homework before you get your blood drawn.

You will have to use Fedex to ship the blood sample overnight. Even in podunk  Southern Illinois where I am located the Fedex people knew how to ship a diagnostic specimen. 

Pick a Fedex shipping center close to the lab where you will have your blood drawn. 

Use a Fedex shipping center and not a mailboxes etc or a Fedex pickup to ship your blood. I actually went to the Fedex center and asked them how late I could dropoff my diagnostic specimen package and have it arrive in Seattle Washington by 10:00 the next morning. It turns out that I had to dropoff my package by 7:00pm in order for it to arrive in Seattle Washington by 10am the next morning.

5. The night before you go to the lab for the blood draw, place the freezer pack (this is part of the diagnostic specimen shipper ) in the freezer.

The freezer pack will keep the blood at a cool temperature in the shipper.

6. The day you will be getting your blood drawn make sure that you have you leave the house with the following items:
Diagnostic Specimen Shipping Kit
Freezer pack (which is now frozen)
Red top blood draw order
University of Washington Lab Test Request Form
Shipping Address of University of Washington Lab
Check or money order for $104.00 made out to the University of Washington
(check the paperwork U of W sent you, the price may have gone up)
Paper Towels ( you need these when you are packing the blood )

Go to the lab where your doctor ordered the red top blood draw and hand them your doctor's red top blood draw lab order and the blood vial that is part of the diagnostic shipper.

Explain to the lab people that you will be shipping the blood yourself  to the University of Washington and that you will need the blood vial back. If the lab people start asking specifics out in the waiting room in front of all the other lab patrons tell them that you'd like to discuss this in private with them. This didn't happen with me, but I could see how it could.

They will draw your blood and spin it down. This took about 45 minutes. 

IMPORTANT INFO: WHEN THEY HAND YOUR BLOOD VIAL  BACK TO YOU MAKE SURE IT IS LABELLED WITH YOUR NAME AND THE DATE!!!! The University of Washington won't  process your blood vial if it isn't labeled.

You'll get back a vial of clear fluid. This is blood serum. So don't be freaked out when they hand back a vial of clear fluid.

8. Now you'll have to pack the blood in the diagnostic shipper. I packed it in my car. 

Place the blood vial diagnostic specimen plastic bag and seal shut.

The diagnostic specimen plastic bag will have a pouch on the outside. Place University of Washington Lab Request form and check/money order in this outside pouch.

Wrap diagnostic specimen plastic bag in paper towel. THIS IS REQUIRED BY LAW. The paper towel is there to absorb any liquid that should escape from the vial. 

Put freezer pack in styrofoam box, put wrapped diagnostic specimen bag on top of freezer pack. Put lid on styrofoam box.

Put styrofoam box in cardboard container. Tape shut.

Place diagnostic specimen sticker and biohazard sticker on outside of cardboard  box.

If any of this is confusing, call the University of Washington's Community Services and they will provide a better run down on how to pack the specimen. Their phone number is (206) 598-6066 or 800-713-5198 

9. Take to Fedex Shipping Center and ship.  The fedex people might ask you how you packed the box. Be ready to describe how you packed it. Get the track number.

Now you're done shipping the blood. The test results will be mailed back to your Doctor within 1 to 2 weeks. Your doctor will give you your test results back. 

It's a bit of work, but you'll be getting the "Gold Standard" blood test for herpes. 

Posted by Rattus on Jun-24-99 at 05:15 PM (EST)
Ok, again here is how I got my western blot:

1. Called doc and asked for blood draw and for the draw to be spun down (need about 2 ml serum).
2. She, like most docs, had never heard of WB for HSV (this is normal).
3. Came to office with a styrofoam, protective, Fed Ex container with ice.
4. Had a check for $121 dollars (inside ziplock) made out to UW inside
5. Had a letter that said please run WB for HSV-1 & HSV-2 and send results to my doctor.
6. I enclosed the card of my doctor
7. I never saw the doc, I just went straight to the lab.
8. Got my blood drawn & sera separated(normal red top tube)
9. Packaged it all up and dropped it off at a FedEx office.
10. Results in about 2 weeks.


U of Washington Contact Address & Phone #  - Also information about herpes and the test

Posted by Nancy on Jun-25-99 at 06:56 PM (EST)
OK here's how I did it. I called my MD & told her what I'd learned about the ELISA being inaccurate & she of course wasn't familiar with the WB being done for HSV, but didn't oppose ordering it for me. I have Aetna HMO insurance & was doubtful it would be covered, but I haven't had any trouble so far & my first one was run in February & no one has contacted me re: news is good news!

Next I took the order she wrote me to the lab & wrote on the request myself....DRAW RED TOP, SPIN DOWN & SEND OVERNIGHT ON ICE TO (underlined this part) to......address/phone # to Univ. of WA (let me know if you need it!). I had it drawn at the hospital rather than at a ancillary lab to decrease transport time & room for error, I had it drawn early in the week (Mon or Tues.) so it wouldn't get hung up over a weekend, I also had it drawn early in the day (8AM) then I called the hospital lab where it was drawn a couple of hours after it was drawn & asked to speak with a supervisor to verify that it had or would go out that day "overnight" mail. I had to be VERY persistent in getting it drawn & sent correctly, but it was worth it to know that it was an accurate sample.

Return to HHP Main page