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Parvovirus B19
Mar 11, 2001

Dear Robert,

after living 2 months of hell after risky exposure and 2 negative ELISA at 6 nad 8 weeks, I have now been diagnosed with Parvovirus b19.

In your knoweldge, how likely is it that this virus would give similar ars symptoms as HIV? Or could this virus come together with HIV infection, or as a consequence of HIV Infection? Your answer is higly appreciated.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

Here's what we know about this one! Infection with Parvovirus B-19 is common; approximately 60% of adults worldwide have had exposure to the virus and now have Parvovirus B-19-specific antibodies in their blood. This merely indicates past infection and the appropriate immunological response. The virus is transmitted predominantly by the respiratory route (HIV is not!). Parvovirus B-19 can also be transmitted in blood and blood products (as can HIV). Symptoms of Parvovirus B-19 depend on the immunologic status of the person infected. "Normal" children get a classic rash that looks like "slapped cheeks." "Normal" adults often get symmetrical pain in joints of the hands and feet. In patients with deficient immune systems (as in HIV disease), Parvovirus B-19 can produce persistent anemia. Did your blood work indicate past infection (IgG antibody) or current infection (IgM antibody)? I would predict it was IgG showing past infection.

Acute retroviral syndrome related to HIV is quite different from acute Parvovirus infection. Also, you have had a negative HIV test at 8 weeks, so your chances of being infected with HIV are quite low. Since you had a "risky exposure," I would suggest one more test at 6 months, just to be absolutely sure. As for contracting the 2 viruses simultaneously, this is possible only through blood exposure -- sharing needles, etc. Parvovirus is not transmitted sexually. Parvovirus as a consequence of HIV? Well, not exactly. As I mentioned, Parvovirus can be an opportunistic infection in patients with significantly impaired immune systems. Therefore, someone with advanced HIV disease and significant immunodeficiency who contracts a Parvovirus infections may develop persistent anemia rather than the usual short-lived symptoms I described above for folks with "normal" immune systems. At this point, your immune system should still be quite normal.

Hope this clarifies. Stay well, stay safe.

RJF


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