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HIV+ and Vaccination Shots
Dec 9, 2004

Hello,

On 9-7-04 I was told I was HIV+.

I have received a HEP A shot, TB test, Pneumovax, flu shot and tested neg for all other STD's.

When I research material I find there is no mention of whether or not people who have received such vaccinations or preventative measures are actually immune to these illnesses or if these are given to simply help boost one's immunity.

In other words, once you get a vaccine - you don't get that illness however, how do these preventative shots/vaccines help people with HIV?

Do they truly vaccinate an HIV+ individual from these illnesses or are they simply given as precautionary measures since our immune systems may become so weak that a vaccine may not even assure resistance to such illnesses?

Regards, Positive Outlook

Response from Dr. Pierone

These vaccines have become a standard part of management because of the greater risk of infectious complications in HIV-infected patients. Vaccination poses some challenges though.

Vaccines work best in patients with high CD4 counts and for this reason are best given up front. Some of these vaccines can produce a lasting improvement in immune responsiveness which translates into a lower risk of infection (or complications of infection).

Influenza vaccine changes every year and should be an annual vaccine. Some people that are vaccinated against influenza still get infected with this virus if exposed, but are less likely to end up with pneumonia on a ventilator than someone that never got the vaccine.

Pneumonia vaccine is recommended at least once, although many clinicians recommend periodic revaccination because of waning of protection. We strive to revaccinate at 5 to 7 year intervals.

The skin test for TB is not a vaccine, but rather a test to see if someone is latently infected with tuberculosis. If the test is positive, a course of a single TB medication can cure the infection and prevent TB from reactivating at some later point.

Persons with low CD4 counts do not respond as well to vaccines, but should receive vaccines nonetheless because of their increased risk. Hope this helps.



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