Question

I read the article "When Will There Be A Shingles Vaccine for HIV-Positive People?" (http://www.thebody.com/Forums/AIDS/Meds/Current/Q200410.html?ic=700101), where Dr. McGowan says, "It would be best to wait to see the results of that study before making any recommendations." My PCP advised I should get the vaccine a few months ago. I'm a 36 yr old HIV male, VL undetectable, CD4 >300 for over 6 years. Should I be concerned that my PCP gave this vaccine to me? So far I have not noticed any contraindications, and my VL/CD4 have remained consistent.

Answer

Thanks for your post. The recommendation I made is one that would be applied generally. Individual cases must be considered one at a time. Right now there is no evidence that giving varicella vaccine to a person with HIV that is suppressed and who has maintained a CD4 count at a high level is at increased risk of having an adverse event. There is also no evidence that the vaccine would add any benefit for that person either. Currently the vaccine is recommended for people over the age of 60. Therefore, in general, it would be best to await the clinical trial to see the benefits and risks of the vaccine in people with HIV before making a general recommendation to use it routinely. As in your case, this is a matter that should be discussed openly with your medical provider to see what the benefits may be for any individual.

Thanks, Joe