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Chicken pox & HIV
Jun 9, 2008

Hi DOc,

I am sending you a repost seeing that I didn't get a reply from you. I understand you have thousands of other posts to reply so no hard feelings, but I've checked on the archives there's nothing relevant to my question.

Question: I am a HIV positive female of 25 years of age Ive been diagnosed 6 years ago, I developed chicken pox as a child, and it came back last week, went to my GP gave and she gave an injection and antibiotics, so I am healing quite well, my worry is, I would like to know if my immune system has been compromised as a result. Overall I feel fine and I am not on meds yet.

Thanks for the good work doc, best of luck and I wish you a 100 years of lifespan, youre truly a remarkable human being, I mean it.

Stay Well, Your Die Hard Fan

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi Die Hard,

I'm a bit perplexed by your post and that's why I didn't answer it previously. I'll try to explain. If you indeed had chicken pox in childhood, generally speaking you do not get it again as an adult, because you develop long-term immunity to the varicella-zoster virus. If it recurs, it may do so in the form of "shingles," which is a painful reactivation of the virus that generally involves only a very specific area of the body.

That your GP gave you "an injection and antibiotics" is puzzling, as varicella-zoster is a virus and therefore would not respond to antibacterial antibiotics. Perhaps your rash became secondarily infected with a bacteria and he was treating this complication. I also have no idea what the "injection" was. So, in essence I'm not exactly sure what's going on with you. I would suggest you address your question to your HIV specialist. He is in the best position to advise you on the state of your immune system. To answer your question in general, no, an immune system would not be expected to be compromised as a consequence of varicella-zoster. However, the reverse is true. A compromised immune system (due to HIV, cancer, chemotherapy, radiation, immunosuppressants, etc.) makes it more likely for someone to have a reactivation of varicella-zoster. I realize this is a bit confusing, but I hope you understand the concept.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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