[Question #7175] Positive HSV 2 test without intimate contact?

6 months ago
I recently went through a "complete panel" STD testing, through blood and urine. The only intimate contact I've ever had in my entire life was kissing a former girlfriend of mine in high school 10 years ago. I did the testing because I recently found someone who's decided she wants to have sex with me, who leans extremely towards the safe side and never has sexual contact with a new partner without getting him tested first. So my test was essentially just for her to confirm I was clean. I was fully expecting to be completely clean as well, however to my horror my results stated I tested positive for HSV 2. It was an IGG test and my value came up as 2.26. My anxiety fueled research led me to read all about this being a low positive score with a high chance of being a false positive, along with much more information about testing methods and how they work, Western Blot, etc. and eventually here.

My question is, due to my lack of intimate physical contact with anyone throughout my life, is it safe to assume that this positive test result is a false positive? I am also 100% sure that I have never been touched without my awareness or consent by anyone. I am also completely asymptomatic and have never had sores, pain, or felt/seen anything out of the ordinary in either my mouth or genitals. Would there be a chance of scoring in the negative range if I were to take the same IGG test again in the future, or should I consider the Western Blot? 
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
6 months ago
Yes, you can safely assume that this is a false-positive result.  How nice it is to be able to have such a clear picture of someone's sexual history combined with a low positive.  I'm so glad that instead of just panicking, you sought out information on your own and finally came to us.  It should no noted that not every STD panel includes herpes testing, so she might want to check on that, just to be sure.

Terri
---
6 months ago
Thank you so much Dr. Warren! Oh I definitely panicked, but I am a logic-oriented person by nature and all the information I gathered in my research led me to believe this was a false positive that I could be sure of without additional testing. 

There's one thing I've been wondering though, that my research couldn't find a clear answer to: How is it possible that I have enough antibodies to score 2.26 for HSV 2 in the first place, considering my lack of intimacy? Or could the 2.26 number itself be an inaccurate measure of my antibodies since it's assured I'm a false positive? Thank you so much again!
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
6 months ago
It's not a function of YOU, it's a function of the test.  You may have a protein in your blood that looks similar to one of the herpes antibody proteins but is not truly related to HSV 2.  We've known about this issue with the IgG test for many years now.  And because the IgG test relies upon a single protein (unlike the western blot that looks for all of the proteins associated with herpes antibody), it can trigger a false-positive result.

Terri
---
6 months ago
Thank you so much for the information! It's helped me feel at ease, though I still wish to get a negative test result just to confirm it. How likely would it be that doing another IgG test would result in a negative result? I found a service that offers a reflex supplementary test in cases of HSV 2 low positive outcomes, the first lab I went to did not offer any such reflex test or even mentioned low positive / false positive outcomes at all. I understand the Western Blot is the gold standard, but it's not practical for me at this time. Thank you again, and I'm glad a service like this exists and that you're a part of it!
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
6 months ago
LabCorp and Quest both offer supplemental tests but I am not convinced of their validity as I have seen them differ many times now from the western blot.  Sorry the western blot is not practical for you right now - I totally understand that.

Terri
---