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Interpreting herpes test results and bad advice

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Hi all, 

I was exposed to someone with the Herpes (type unknown) just under 6 weeks ago. Initially I was advices to do these lateral flow home tests-  Igm and Igg tests through a fingerprick of blood . I did and they always came back negative for both, I did them every few days for about 3 weeks. 

As I was then researching more and realised this was bad advice I looked into further testing and was told by a GP (a Doctor, General Practitioner here in the UK at a supposedly specialised clinic) to have a PCR swab of my urethra which would pick up if I had HSV 1 or 2 . This came back negative. 

I then researched some more and learnt that the PCR was probably a false negative and then sought out to do an IGG antibody test.  This was done yesterday and it came back negative for HSV 2 , but positive for HSV 1 at a level of 9.76. 

For history, I've not had any symptoms throughout this time, anywhere. No symptoms on my genitals, no sign of cold sores on my mouth.  

That result is pretty conclusive. But what does that level of index (9.76) mean...  would it be at that level all the time throughout my life , or is it fighting a recent infection. I did not ask for igm, as this from what I have read is not an accurate test method and plus, those little lateral flow tests all came back negative for igm in the period that you'd think it would be active. 

Any opinions / help / guidance would be greatly appreciated. 



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Hello!! 🌻

I am so sorry you had to experience all these tests! It is so amazing that you took charge of your health and got more reliable tests. Way to go! 😊

In regards to your positive IgG test result...

IgG antibodies typically take 12+ weeks to build up to detectable numbers. You said you were exposed 6 weeks ago, and your result still came back as positive, which makes me think you may have had HSV-1 prior to this recent exposure. HSV-1 is super common (2/3 of the world has it!). Perhaps you've had a cold sore and have never noticed it or mistook it for a pimple or other sore, or perhaps you have never had a cold sore and you are asymptomatic. 

On the testing results sheet you received, did it show a range? I live in the US, and test results for an IgG test are x<0.90 (negative), x = 0.91 to 1.09 (equivocal, which basically means a retest is needed), and 1.10<x (positive). If the ranges are the same for the UK, and you tested at 9, that's a high positive.  However, I would figure out the ranges in the UK to be sure 😊!! 

I hope this helps!! 

Sending blessings and prayers of happiness your way 🌻💛



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Hey Grace 

Thanks for your reply, you and this forum are great. 

The range over here is pretty similar to the US style, i.e greater than 1.1 is positive. 

What does my 9.7 mean though, does anyone know what that equates to ? 

Also, would it be possible to move from exposure, through the igm phase and into igg in what would be 5.5 weeks since exposure?? 

Thanks to all for reading / replying 

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It likely means that you've had HSV for a while. Hypothetically I'm sure the body could produce IgG antibodies at that level in 5.5 weeks, but it's unlikely. 

Also, it is possible you are producing a false positive. Have you ever had shingles or the Epstein Barr Virus? Sometimes those viral antibodies can produce false positives for herpes tests! 



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Thanks Grace. But no way of knowing for sure I guess.  And no way of knowing where this HSV 1 that is in me will crop up , that is, until it does. 

Don't suppose there is anyone else out there that can offer expertise in this situation and those results ??


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@DutchyI've been told it is the titer levels of antibody response. It is a bit vague. When I tested in October my HSV-2 number was 18.6 and then I retested in April and it went down to 13. I've asked a lot of people and I've done quite a bit of searching myself and I still haven't found a really definitive explanation. Some of the more scientific documents I've found are a bit beyond my level of knowledge in this realm as well.

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  • 3 weeks later...


so I’m assuming it says something like 9.7 IV?

If so, IV stands for Index Value or Signal-to-Cutoff. It really doesn’t mean a whole lot in terms of other values. Basically the test was designed to test against a standard. So all it’s saying is that you have a signal of 9.7 above the cutoff which means your positive. If it had something more like g/dL then you would be taking about an actual concentration measurement of antibody presence (or commonly referred to as Titer). So it depends on what’s after your 9.7 value. 

The difference between IgG and IgM is just a different type of antibody. So if your original result was IgM positive but now negative it wouldn’t be surprising. IgM antibodies don’t stick around but would indicate the initial infection timeframe. IgG are your long term guys that hang around. If you continue to get tested, there will probably be fluctuations in the IgG but a lot of that can be chaulked up to method accuracy, and maybe even the amount of antibodies present at the time of testing. Just think of it as qualitative instead of quantitative.

It is absolutely possible for you body to produce the IgG in 5.5 weeks. Hopefully I was able to shed some light? Who knows maybe I’m way off here. I work in the sciences and even though I look at stuff like this all day, it’s still confusing to me. 🤪

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  • mr_hopp changed the title to Interpreting herpes test results and bad advice

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