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Herpes and HIV
Feb 27, 2013

Hi.I did research your previous answers for this type of question but didnt find something that addressed my exact question. So, I apologize for similarities but will greatly appreciate a response and thank you in advance! One of the reasons they now know of that increases the risk of HIV transmission in the presence of herpes is due to the fact that during and even after the lesion has healed, the surrounding tissue is populated with dendritic cells and CD4+ T cells, which helps create a perfect storm for infection to occur. In light of this fact, someone with a live herpes infection or even one that has recently healed definitely is at an increased risk, as much as 2 to 37 times greater, as stated in the article. How do we know then, that someone with this increased and heightened vulnerability wont be exposed or infected if say, this opening/sore should come into contact by accident in a scenario involving blood or infectious fluids in a public restroom and toilet? I understand the average person with intact skin or skin that doesnt contain these CD 4 cells would be much more protected or shielded from this kind of thing, hence the implication that HIV and public restroom concerns is nonsense. But just how concerned should someone with herpes be? What can or should they do to protect themselves from what seems to be a heightened possibility to accidental exposure? Would the possibility still be truly nonexistent for someone with herpes or is this something that is said to simply quell mass hysteria? It seems to me that if blood or other infectious materials should splash or otherwise come into contact with herpes that this could be a transmission risk? Please set me straight on this!

Response from Dr. Wohl

I am not completely convinced that HSV increases risk of HIV and if it does to what extent. As mentioned previously, prophylaxis with acyclovir did not prevent HIV acquisition in a major study.

Regardless, even assuming there is a heightened risk, you still need a sufficient exposure to HIV to cause infection. Such exposures can not be found in rest rooms unless there is hanky panky going on in there.

Were HIV to be more casually acquired you would not have mass hysteria, you would have mass infection, including among folks with minimal to no risk of HIV. That is not happening. Trust me, non-sexual contact such as with toilets and such does not transmit HIV no matter what.

DW



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