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HERPES AND HIV
Oct 10, 2000

Dear Doc,

A friend of mine recently got a herpes outbreak on one side of her chest. It took medication and it cleared in about a week. Her doc. has indicated to her that there are chances that she may also be HIV+ve since the two more often than not go hand in hand. I would like to know how true this is. Also, since the two are viruses, is it possible that a HIV test may be positive due to the presence of the herpes virus (i have heard that traces of the virus can stay on for a long time). Hope you will find time to answer my question and thank you in advance.

Concerned friend.

Response from Mr. Kull

It is not true that herpes and HIV go hand in hand more often than not. There is a much higher prevalence in the United States of herpes virus infections than HIV infections. HIV infected people are prone to more severe and frequent herpes outbreaks than those who are not HIV infected. Those with active herpes lesions might be at greater risk for HIV infection if they come into contact with HIV infected fluids. You cannot conclude that someone is HIV positive just because they have herpes. More information is necessary, especially risk history.

Was your friend diagnosed with shingles/herpes zoster? This may be why the doctor jumped to the HIV conclusion. People with compromised immune systems, like the HIV infected, tend to have outbreaks of shingles; it is unusual for a young, healthy person. While it might be recommended for your friend to get HIV tested, especially if they are at any risk for HIV infection, there is no cause for alarm.

The presence of herpes will not cause a false positive on an HIV test.

RMK



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