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Substrains of HSV


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I'm hoping to get some education about HSV substrains.

So we all know that HSV has two central strains, 1 and 2, but did you know that HSV-1 (and maybe 2) have multiple substrains within them?  I didn't until recently. Does it really matter? I'm not entirely sure, but it might? The Western Blot test is designed to detect more substrains of HSV that normal IGG tests. What if you happen to have a substrain that the IGG test does not capture (I believe the IGG is about 90% accurate for HSV1 and 97% for HSV2)? Then you could think you are HSV free, when in fact you aren't after a negative IGG test (if you happen to be one of the small 10% people who IGG tests don't recognize for HSV-1). 

Also, let's say you want to date within your HSV, for instance 1 to 1 or 2 to 2. Could you be infecting yourself with another substrain or infecting someone else with a substrain they don't have? Does it matter? Are they really just the same once you stay within your HSV-1 or 2 lane or could some substrains react differently to the end user (be more mild or more severe, produce different symptoms or frequency)? Does having one substrain of HSV-1 protect or make you more susceptible to other substrains of HSV-1?

Thinking about substrains, it got me thinking, what really is the difference between HSV-1 and 2? Couldn't we just classify HSV as a block of substrains?

Does any of this really matter?

Looking forward to your input.




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I'd like to first correct your idea that Western Blot somehow tests for HSV itself.. that's not the case, as the target is still the antibodies to HSV rather than the viruses themselves. Apart from this, the rest of the questions are very good and not easy to answer as I'm not aware of any data to base an opinion on.

There could be substrains or maybe even completely different types of HSV that aren't detectable by the current tests.. another question that arises is: when do we stop calling it HSV and call it something else? How different does a virus have to get?

Between the genetic variability in the viruses involved and that of each affected individual (and subsequently their immune response), it's really hard to tell exactly what the end result will be or what will happen.

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Thanks VVK. I actually did know that Western Blot, like IGG, tests for antibodies not the virus. Sorry that wasn't explicit.

I guess my point is, why do we even have HSV-1 and 2? I suppose any substrains that fall in the 2 range seem to cause more intense symptoms in the genital area. But I think that classifying them as 1 and 2 is oversimplifying it. By having HSV1, you could still infect them with HSV1 of another strain that might do different things to you, or nothing at all. Why is this important? Suppose you only date within your HSV range, 1 to 1, 2 to 2. You might think that be dating in your lane, you will stay safe and keep your partner safe as you both have the same thing, when if fact, it could be adding another substrain to the mix. Some say, oh you have HSV1, that's not a big deal, but removing the labels, it would just be viewed the same across the board.

They need to improve the IGG tests to include all known substrains of HSV1 and 2.


I would love to hear about substrains if anyone can enlighten us.





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