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Help!!!! Can I have HSV2 without an outbreak. Is there a test to confirm?


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Long story but... my (almost) ex-wife is accusing me of having cheated and given her HSV2. The problem is, I never cheated. So either one of us had it before we got married, or she was unfaithful and won't admit it.

I went to get a blood test to confirm that I do not have it but I was told that because I had Chicken Pox when I was a child, the blood test will indicate "positive", whether or not I have HSV2. They did do a urethra culture; I am waiting on the results.

I have NEVER had an outbreak or any symptoms. Is it possible that I caught it without an outbreak or any symptoms? Is there a blood test that can differentiate between Chicken Pox and HSV2? I'm 99% sure that I do not have HSV2, need a test that can prove it.



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Hi Andrew,

First of all, it sounds like you are going through a really rough time right now. Herpes can cause a lot of emotional upheaval, especially within a relationship, when it causes a suspicion of infidelity.

Know this --- it is definitely possible that either or both of you could have had herpes prior to your marriage, and brought it into the relationship. HSV can lie dormant, without any symptoms, for years. It is estimated that about 70% of those who have herpes do not know it, because of this asymptomatic/latent nature of the virus.

Does your wife know with absolute certainty that she has HSV2? Has she had a typed culture or a type specific blood test (IgG-based), or is her doctor just assuming it is HSV2 because it is in her genital area? This is an important point you will need to find out in order to clarify the situation.

The person who told you that about blood tests and chicken pox is both right and wrong.

The old technology was IgM-only blood testing, and that type of test definitely can cross-react with the Varicella Zoster (chickenpox) Virus to show a false positive result. Here's an explanation of that:

Intro to Blood Testing

The reason that person was wrong, is because there is now a more accurate type of blood test available.

However, some docs are not aware that the newer technology is much more accurate and will give you a type-specific determination of whether you have HSV1 or HSV2 or both or neither. I want you to read this page to help you understand some of the issues around the diagnosis of herpes:

Herpes Diagnosis

The sort of test you need to get is a TYPE SPECIFIC IgG-BASED HERPES BLOOD TEST. Here is some info that should help with getting the proper test. You can even print it out and take it to your doctor. If you find your doctor is reluctant, or does not have the test available, you should be able to find a local clinic that would do it.

Getting an Accurate Blood Test

How Can You Get an Accurate Herpes Blood Test?

Hope this helps.

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HSV1 versus HSV2

Just want to address the point I made above about whether or not your wife knows for sure that her infection is due to HSV2 (versus HSV1)...

Genital herpes is often assumed to be caused by HSV2, because that strain is "at home" in the genital area.

In contrast, HSV1 is "at home" in the oral/facial area. It causes most cases of oral herpes.

However, either type (1 or 2) can cause infection in either area.

Why is this important?

About 80% of the North American population is estimated to have oral herpes by the time they reach adulthood. Most contracted the virus by way of casual (non-sexual) contact such as a kiss on the cheek from a family member or friend or sharing a saliva-covered toy with another child. Many of those who have it are asymptomatic and do not know it. But they can still pass herpes on to uninfected individuals.

So...it is possible that you and/or your wife might have had oral herpes, caused by HSV1, without knowing it since you were kids.

Now, flash forward to this relationship. If one of you was infected with oral herpes and the other wasn't, the virus could be passed orally to the uninfected partner through kissing. If one of you has oral herpes and gives the uninfected partner oral sex, the uninfected person could get genital herpes caused by HSV1.

So if your wife has not had a TYPE SPECIFIC test to be sure her genital infection is caused by HSV2, it is possible she might actually have genital HSV1.

If that were the case, it could have been caused by an unrecognized oral HSV1 infection, which you might have had since childhood.

So, you both need to be type tested to see for sure:

  • if you have herpes
  • what type you have, if so
  • what type your wife has

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    • sgt98
      Hey @WilsoInAus ok thank you, I will do my best to move on and stop trawling forums haha. 
    • WilsoInAus
      Hey @sgt98 but there is no feasible infection or outbreak to suppress and antivirals do not suppress an initial outbreak in any event 
    • sgt98
      Thanks @WilsoInAus I understand apologies for this but the only other thing I am worried about is that I did take a course of Famvir on day 1 as I felt like I was having an outbreak of cold sores and am worried that has suppressed the initial outbreak genitally 
    • WilsoInAus
      Hi @sgt98 it is not feasible to obtain a HSV-2 infection from receiving oral sex - only HSV-1 is feasible but you've already got that and immunity from any further infection with HSV-1. You do not need any further tests for HSV. You're feeling regret, try to forgive yourself and calm down, let the rational take over. You know the answer here and it won't be long until you believe it too.
    • WilsoInAus
      Hi @NerdP423 and welcome to the website. You raise a lot of points and I think the best way to address your concerns is add some comments at each key point. I've copied your note again below and added these comments in square brackets. I appreciate any insight (even speculation) as to what has been going on with me. I'm a 37y/o M. I last was intimate with a new partner on 2/11/2022, and a few days later started having a huge amount of discomfort in my face. [The first thing that happens though is that herpes causes lesions or at least some skin based disruption. Other symptoms are then related to the actions of the immune system responding to the virus. Without lesions, it is highly questionable that the ailment is related to herpes, yet testing is useful if you have concerns as you have done so.] About a month after that [herpes causes issues within days, if the first 'symptoms' are a month later - its extremely unlikely they are related to herpes], significant discomfort downstairs, however every test I have ever taken for HSV 1 and 2 has been negative. Here are the details: Face: Previously, some significant tingling and itching on the right side of my mouth, lips and chin (still there, but milder) [herpes does not cause general tingling and itching, it can cause a reasonably concentrated feeling of itch/throb from which a herpes lesion appears within hours]. Occasional hot flashes near my right eye, cheek and ear [herpes does not do this, it may be a immune response to something, or stress]. Sometimes it will feel like the skin is crawling on the right side of my face [herpes does not cause a general crawling sensation]. Never seen anything that looked like a traditional cold sore [that's extremely telling, even people with associated atypical symptoms will have experienced herpes lesions]. Occasionally, the left side of my face will have a momentary feeling of skin crawling, but it's so mild that I am not really worried about it. Downstairs: Thankfully, most of these are now milder than they were before. Occasional momentary pinch of pain at the base of my genitals. [herpes does not cause a general pinch feeling.] Aching pain in my boxer area (groin, leg folds) [nor this] Occasional feeling of cold in my boxer area, butt, or lower back. ( also in my shins and occasionally even my arms) [nor this] On 4/30/2022, I had been in discomfort for almost two months. I scratched an itch, noticed it hurt, and then checked - I did have an open ulcer down there. Took myself to the ER to get swabbed, came back negative. [If this was a PCR then this will be very conclusive.] Practitioner said it may come back negative because it was already open. However the lab report noted that it definitely didn't look like what you'd expect a typical first herpes outbreak to look like [how would the lab know??]. All blood tests negative so far. I had two western blots, the second one was nine months after exposure. [Two negative Westernblots!!! Many that's real convincing]. All other swabs also negative. I went to urgent care, because I know the timeliness of when the Swab is taken matters. One time, a swab was not done, because practitioner said it was folliculitis and wouldn't swab it (It was at my belt line). [Belt line is highly unlikely to relate to herpes.]   A blood test revealed I had low-ish B12 (technically in range, but at the very low end, especially for a man of my size). I had a series of B12 injections, and I am taking a B12 supplement. I am not taking any lysine or arginine at the moment. I was taking the Arganine to see if I could induce an outbreak. [This is irrelevant, there is no known linkage between herpes outbreaks and arginine/lysine intake - its a myth - and B12 infers nothing.] I think what I am asking is - has anyone here ever repeatedly tested negative over and over again over long period of time, before getting a definitive answer, be a positive test, or something else? [The answer to this is: Extremely few people with a HSV-1 infection and even more rarely HSV-2 test repeatedly negative on Westernblot and actually carry the virus. Of the cases that I know of that had delayed detection by a swab and negative blood tests in the meantime (and that's only 3-4 cases), they had some form of lesions within days of infection but did not obtain a swab for various reasons and then obtained a positive swab of a subsequent lesion with the record being 11 months later. A couple of the cases did have some 'background' symptoms they thought might be related to herpes but that isn't ascertained and some did not have any unusual symptoms at all apart from the lesions. Hence as you did not have lesions around your mouth or lips within days of the last sexual encounter as is exceptionally common for a primary oral HSV-1 infection, that pretty much rules out herpes orally as it is. The fact that you had no genital symptoms for a month also rules out genital herpes. I am not aware of anyone at all who has genuinely gone on to test positive by swab or blood in your specific circumstances. There are hundreds if not more than a thousand experiences on this website alone that are similar to yours that are truly negative for herpes I'm one of them!]  
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