What Does a Herpes IgM Test Result Mean?

December 27, 2017

Many physicians will tell patients with a favorable herpes IgM test their test result means that they were recently infected with herpes (HSV). This is because anti-HSV IgM antibodies are considered to peak shortly after an initial infection and then recede. In reality, that is the common wisdom for IgM antibodies generally. Compared to IgM, herpes IgG antibodies develop more slowly.

However, they may be expected to stay high during the course of a disease. Thus, a positive HSV IgG evaluation is believed to imply that the discovered infection is at least several months old. 

Can a Positive HSV IgM Test Mean You Were Recently Infected?

Interestingly, the research suggests that the frequent wisdom about herpes blood test results may not be accurate. Individuals that were recently infected with herpes DO tend to have favorable HSV IgM tests. However, so do lots of individuals with recurrent herpes infections. Between 30 and 70 percent of individuals with recurrent herpes are favorable on HSV IgM tests, based on the evaluation and the study.

Herpes IgM evaluations are more likely to be positive in ancient herpes infections than herpes IgG tests. This is because IgM develops faster than IgG. But a positive HSV IgM test, without any other data, doesn’t prove that disease a herpes infection is current.

That is particularly true if it is accompanied with a favorable herpes IgG test. Additionally, it is possible that you might have a positive HSV IgM outcome if you are using a recurrence. 

How to Interpret Your Results

In case you have a favorable herpes IgM test and a negative herpes IgG evaluation, then it’s more likely your results signal a current disease.

However, it is likely to misinterpret evaluation results, since there is the chance that an outcome may be a  false positive. You may not be infected at all, or you might be infected with another virus that stimulates antibodies that cross-react together with the herpes test — like the Epstein Barr virus or parvovirus. Consequently, in case you have no symptoms, you may want to go back to IgG testing at a later date. Should you have symptoms, your doctor can test the lesions for herpes directly. There’s no need to wait for an antibody response.

Detectable levels of herpes IgG take longer to grow than detectable levels of herpes IgM. However, even herpes IgM antibodies can take around ten days to develop after primary infection with the virus. Therefore, if you think you have been exposed but have no symptoms, do not run to the physician. It’s best to wait at fourteen days prior to getting tested. It could be wise to wait even more, depending on which tests can be found in your town. You may also want to go to get a repeat test after 6 weeks if you don’t undergo regular screening.That way you’re more likely to catch an illness, without worrying about missing the window in which the tests are true.

Hint: If you have symptoms that look like a brand new herpes infection, head to the physician. They could check the sores for virus straight away. You do not need to wait for the immune reaction to catch up.