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hiv and herpes

Apr 18, 2008

Dear Dr. Bob I guess many folks are getting herpes (oral and genital) out of unprotected sex. I have also read that herpes destroyes the immune system with the same vengence as HIV does by altering the genetic code of healthy cells and thus causes AIDS. This maybe the reason why many develop AIDS being HIV-. What is your opinion? I had an unprotected sex 3 years ago and though I was tested negative for HIV I have recurrent herpes on my lips. What are my chances to progress to full blown AIDS? I am a male in 50s. Thanks for our reply. Worried grandpa

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Worried Grandpa,

I don't know where you are getting your information (Fox News perhaps?), but it's way off base.

Regarding herpes, nearly 7 out of very 10 Americans have oral herpes, often acquired non-sexually during childhood (i.e. "cold sores"). At least 45 million Americans have genital herpes. (That's about one out of every five Americans.) Herpes sores and blisters are very infectious. The virus can be transmitted very easily during oral sex and in some cases can be passed on when no symptoms are present. Herpes does not "destroy the immune system with the same vengeance as HIV." Nor does herpes "cause AIDS!"

HIV/AIDS is caused by an entirely different virus: Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). HIV can be transmitted via unprotected sex. If you tested HIV negative three months or more after your last unprotected episode, your tests are definitive and conclusive. HIV is not your problem. No way. No how. Your chances of progressing to AIDS would be completely nonexistent.

I'd suggest you spend some time perusing the wealth of information on this Web site about HIV. Begin with "HIV Basics," as your basic understanding of HIV is shockingly deficient. HIV has been around for more than a quarter of a century. I'm amazed you are still so confused about such basic concepts. Your post is a prime example of why we need to upscale our HIV awareness and education efforts all the way from the schoolhouse to the old folks' homes! I'd suggest you get a copy of "Age of AIDS" to watch. It's a DVD made by PBS that documents the first 25 years of the epidemic. (You can Netflix it or get it at Blockbuster.) It will help to bring you up to date on the pandemic.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob

Worried HIV Case Manager
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