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Avatar universal

IgG positive and IgM negative - what's it mean?

My wife had her first outbreak of Herpes. The culture test showed positive. We don't yet know her status on IgM or IgG because her blood test results have not yet come back. After she got tested, I did the same. My tests came back right away & showed I was IgG positive (great than 5.00) and IgM negative. A previous test I had in 2014 showed "HSV 2 DNA not detected." What are the chances that I infected my wife with HSV?  Or could she have infected me? And what exactly does it mean in practical terms when one is IgG positive and IgM negative? Again, both of us have been monogamous, but I have read that the disease can be dormant for years. I would also want feedback from people on the dormancy issue and how valid that is.
8 Responses
Avatar universal
Was the culture test for your wife typed for HSV2? Or did it come back within a couple of days positive for HSV and untyped?

Was it your IgG test for HSV2 that came back positive greater than 5?

What was the HSV2 DNA not detected' test? Was it a swab tested with PCR or a blood test?
Avatar universal
I believe the culture test for my wife came back positive for HSV and untyped. Today, the first doctor who saw my wife said she never ordered IgG nor IgM tests, only a very simple HSV test.

It was my IgG test for HSV2 that came back positive greater than 5. The Sept. 2014 lab results said: "Herpes Simplex Virus, Type 1 & 2 DNA, Real-Time PCR, source serum or plasma, HSV 1 DNA not detected, HSV 2 DNA not detected, reference range: not detected."
Avatar universal
The test you had in 2014 was the wrong test. PCR on blood cannot diagnose herpes, which is not present in the blood ordinarily.

You have most likely had HSV2 for years and it would also appear that you have recently infected your wife.
Avatar universal
I'm confused. Why would the 2014 test say I was negative for herpes but not actually test for herpes? Did the doctor or perhaps the lab make a mistake in terms of which test they gave me?

Why would a provider order a herpes test that doesn't actually test for herpes?

Also, is there a way to make a ballpark estimate as to when I first got infected? If I've had herpes for many years, why would my wife get infected only recently?
Avatar universal
A blood test for herpes DNA has no validity. I do not know why doctors order it, they are wrong to do so.

Herpes lives in nerve cells. It is rarely found in blood. Hence to test negative through a PCR test on blood means nothing if it is negative.

You have hence carried the virus from before you met your wife.

Infection rates for people who do not have outbreaks and have had the virus for a while are very low. About 8% chance per year of sex. Hence on average it does take years to transmit.
Avatar universal
I do not know why doctors order PCR on blood for HSV but it is simply the wrong test. A negative test here does not mean no herpes is present. Most people with herpes test negative with a PCR on blood. PCR on serum has its place, usually with spinal fluid, but I am at a loss to understand why it is applied to drawn blood.

It would appear your wife has just been infected, hence you received HSV2 from a previous partner. Are you sure you do not recall some symptoms you couldn't quite explain?
Avatar universal
Thank you for that information. To this day I've never had any symptoms that could be related to any STD, much less herpes.  

I do have some additional information about my wife's tests. She had a vaginal swab on 2/6 and tested positive for HSV. She also had blood work done and on 2/10 it showed a positive for HSV but did not indicate IgG or IgM results. On 2/27 she got additional results from a lesion culture swab that showed negative IgG and negative IgM. She was told it was not an old infection & that it had occurred within the last 60 days. I don't know if this additional information sheds any new light on the situation. I'm just mainly trying to figure out when I contracted the disease, and from what you are saying, it sounds like it could have happened years ago (despite the fact I've never had symptoms).
Avatar universal
OK let's summarise for facts as I don't think all the information told to you is correct.

1) You have a high reading for IgG HSV2 antibodies of >5 where above 1 is positive... Correct?
2) Your wife had a swab of lesions that has come back positive for HSV by culture... Correct? The result should say something like HSV isolated or detected. IgG and IgM are blood tests and not related to the culture test.
3) Your wife is negative for IgG and IgM antibodies for HSV1 and HSV2 at this time... Correct?

The following is hence the most likely explanation by far:
- You have been infected with HSV2 for a long time, many years, and are asymptomatic.
- With low transmission rates, you have only just infected your wife and this occurred within 1 week before her sores appeared.
- She will test positive for HSV2 antibodies within a few weeks.
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