Shingles and HIV

Question

I wanted to confirm something. I see people saying that Shingles is a common early symptom of HIV infection. I had shingles a couple years ago (39 yrs old at the time) and my doctor said the same thing to me. I had been tested for HIV a few years before that and was negative...however, he wasn't very clear. Here's my question, when people say Shingles is an early sign of HIV infection are they referring to shingles being something you are likely to get immediately following the initial HIV infection or are they meaning shingles is a sypmtom of HIV infection that you have had for a while and it is most likely the earliest actually sympton you will notice. I hadn't had unprotected sex with anyone besides my boyfriend in years before this incident and it really freaked me out. Been about 3 years since I had Shingles and no recurrence or other symptoms since then. Is it fair to say that if I was advanced enough with an HIV infection over 3 years ago that I would have had more symptons since then.

Answer

Hi,

Hmm . . . so let me get this straight. You had a bout of shingles three years ago and your doctor advised you shingles was a common early sign of HIV infection. So rather than test for HIV, you decided just to sit around and wait to see if you croaked from AIDS??? Somehow that just doesn't seem like a logical strategy to me.

Let me say a word about shingles first. Shingles can be a sign of immune compromise (suppression or deficiency); however, the vast majority of cases have absolutely nothing to do with HIV. You can read much more about shingles in the archives of this forum.

Next, I should mention something about your wait-and-see strategy. No matter what the circumstances, if there is reason to believe you may be HIV infected, the logical thing to do is get tested. When it comes to HIV, what you don't know can kill you.

Dr. Bob