tinea transmission - need for worry

Question

Hi Dr Bob, I am male, mid 30's and 1 month ago had protected vaginal sex with a sex worker. No condom slippage or breakage to note. I got tested for every STD except HIV and found that I had herpes only. I since developed a red scaly rash on my left inner thigh. It is confined to this area. When I scratch it little flakes of skin come off and the skin left looks scaly but does not bleed. My GP diagnosed it as some sort of fungal skin condition and put me on a weeks dose of Kenacomb ointment. It has since all disappeared with this treatment. Could this be a sign that my immune system is weakening due to HIV since HIV positive folks are more susceptible to fungal infections? Or, can healthy individuals still catch tinea from others ie could I have caught this from the sex worker and it not be related to HIV at all? Does herpes weaken your immune system? Do you think HIV testing is warranted at three months? Thanks for your time Dr Bob. Donation is on its way. Michael.

Answer

Hey Michael,

Tinea fungal rashes are extremely common and not an indication of a weakened or deteriorating immune system. Yes, "healthy individuals" do indeed get tinea infections frequently.

No, herpes does not weaken the immune system.

Regarding the need for HIV testing, protected sex is indeed protected if the latex condom was used properly and did not fail. HIV transmission in this setting would be essentially nonexistent.

Dr. Bob