May 8, 2005
I'm hiv positive and developed shingles. Last t cell count was 550. Does this mean my t cell count has gone down? it won't be drawn for another week. What is the likelihood I will get shingles again? help please
Response from Dr. Conway
Shingles is the reactivation of the chicken pox virus that has been dormant in your body since you had chicken pos, probably as a child. It may happen in people with normal immune systems, but it is generally more common in people as they get older, have cancer, or have HIV infection that progresses, all of which are linked to a weakening of the immune system.
The fact that you had shingles does not necesarily mean that your disease is progressing, but it is important to check for this. If the T cell percentage has gone down, you should think about going on anti-HIV medications, as this could not only reduce the risk of recurrence of shingles, but may improve your general state of health.
Now if your T cell percentage and count are both stable, you may also wish to consider going on treatment. The shingles may be telling us that the HIV is weakening your immune system in a way that the T cell count is not accurately measuring. Going on treatment may also help this.
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