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Has anyone had a false positive?

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Okay so my doctor told me I am herpes positive. But I came back equivocal for both hsv 1 / 2 they said this means the infection is so recent that they can’t detect which kind.... which none of this makes sense to me. I had a 2.00 and I have only been with 3 people my whole life. 1 was a long term relationship and 2 were hook ups after we broke up. I am making 1 guy get tested and see if he has it if he gave it to me and if not then I’m going to ask the last guy. Just doesn’t make sense, I have no symptoms , no sores or anything, and cane back negative for everything else. I was just wondering if I could possible not have it? 

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Yes, I had a false low-positive scores for HSV-2 initially, resulting in the most confusing and depressing couple of years in my adult life. As it turns out, like a large percentage of the population, I have HSV-1. If you've ever had a cold sore in your life, it's possible that the test is mis-reading your hsv-1 antibodies. If you've never had a cold sore in your life, it's possible you've acquired hsv-1, not hsv-2. It's also entirely possible you do have both. Without symptoms, the expensive Western Blot test is your best bet for figuring it out, but only after a few months have passed.

I had three IgG tests done over a period of a year, the first two tests showed hsv-1 negative, hsv-2 positive, but the positive scores were always *under* the 3.5 score that *SHOULD BE* used to determine whether a score is accurate--for the third test I did only the hsv-2 test, and it came back completely negative. At that point I firmly believed I was hsv-1 negative (after all, the previous two tests had been totally hsv-1 negative and I'd never had a cold sore), and the new result showing "all clear" for hsv-2 was hopeful. Still feeling unsure and confused, I invested the money to have a Western Blot test done, which confirmed I actually had hsv-1 (the kind that is usually oral cold sores). I've never had a cold sore, and in retrospect I do believe I had mild symptoms that aligned with having GHSV, so I believe that I acquired HSV-1 genitally, and during the period when I was testing the antibodies were just getting established.

Jumping to the conclusion that a low score on IgG is positive might make sense if you had symptoms. Without symptoms it's better to take the wait and see approach to test interpretation. The IgG test is the better test for confirming hsv-2 when the score is relatively high (over 3.5) but often completely misses the mark for hsv-1 detection. My theory is that I was acquiring the antibodies to hsv-1 and the test was mis-reading it as hsv-2. Lesson learned? Always test for both. Another lesson learned? This stuff is confusing and convoluted.

It's unfortunate that many medical professionals who are conducting and interpreting these results do not really know how vague and confusing the process is, so you are going to have to do the research. I recommend googling "westover heights clinic" and downloading Terri Warren's "Herpes Handbook." She is a true lifesaver, and I think is probably the foremost expert on helping people understand their hsv status, you can pay a small fee to ask questions on the forum there. 

It takes a little while to educate yourself, but you CAN get to the bottom of this, but then you also have educate your healthcare providers (and your partners). I printed out the CDC treatment guidelines and highlighted this part, "The most commonly used test, HerpeSelect HSV-2 Elisa might be falsely positive at low index values (1.1–3.5)"  and handed it to my doctor to explain why I wanted to keep testing, you might consider doing the same.

Best of luck to you . . . and remember, even if you are positive, you are fine. It's hard to learn to deal with this stuff, but you will survive and thrive, no matter what your true status.

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