Genital Herpes and HIV


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If you have genital herpes, there is an increased risk of you contracting HIV. HIV is an infection caused by the Human Immunodeficiency virus and it weakens your immune system so you eventually develop autoimmune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) where your body can no longer fight off infection.  If you have both of these infections, then one can worsen the effects of the other and make it harder to treat the infections.

Herpes increases the risk of HIV

The herpes simplex virus causes an infection that can increase your risk of becoming infected with HIV. The symptom that is the most prevalent in genital herpes is the infected blisters that appear. These turn into sores that are open so genital fluids can easily be passed into the skin. Immune cells arrive at the blisters and try to deal with the infection. These cells are the cells that HIV infects, so it is a perfect opportunity for HIV to be passed directly into your immune cells. Therefore, if the blisters come into contact with any fluid containing HIV, there is a greater risk of contracting the infection.

Herpes and HIV: Worsening symptoms

If you have both infections, then they can have effects on each other, which can cause more problems for your body. The herpes virus can cause the HIV virus to replicate more so that is produces more copies of itself within the body. Therefore, it worsens the effects of HIV on your immune system. Because HIV weakens your immune system, it has problems controlling genital herpes outbreaks so you may experience longer outbreaks with more severe symptoms. They may also occur more frequently.

Problems with treatment

If you have contracted HIV and herpes, then the HIV infection can make treatment of the herpes infection more troublesome. The recurrent outbreaks last longer and are more severe due to your weakened immune system so a higher dose of acyclovir is usually needed. You may also need to take acyclovir for a longer period of time in order to reduce the number of outbreaks. It is also easier for the herpes simplex virus to acquire resistance as it has come into contact with another virus, so different antiviral medication may have to be used to control the herpes infection.


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