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Connection between herpes and HIV?

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I was reading one of the informational blogs which was a question and answer article. The doctor stated that there is a "synergy" between the HIV virus and the herpes virus which puts people with HSV2 at greater risk for HIV. This statement makes me very nervous...what did he mean by this. It is my understanding that the only way that someone can get HIV is by being exposed to it through sexual contact and so I'm not sure what "synergy" means in this context. He said that HSV2 puts people at a greater risk for HIV than HSV1 which I don't understand either because if you have a cold sore and have oral sex with someone with HIV how is that different than having a genital ob and having sex with some with HIV? This is all so overwhelming.

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Calm down. Relax. Here's the skinny. Breathe before you read any further.


Yes, having HSV2 does put you at greater risk for contracting HIV. That is true for the following reasons. Synergy means that having one makes it easier to get the other; it doesn't mean that if you get one, you will get the other.


1. Blisters/open wounds provide easy access to the blood stream for HIV to enter. Since HSV1 and 2 cause blisters that can open, you have to be careful.


2. Even after blisters heal, the white blood cells remain under the skin ready and waiting to heal the wound if it opens again. They stay there forever... These are the cells that HIV likes to invade. The more cells that are present, the more cells that can be invaded.


3. There was ONE study that showed HSV2 infection causes an increase in HIV viral load within the blood. It was a slight increase. There have been other studies that have not shown this correlation. It is a hot topic of debate and scientists aren't really sure.


4. HSV1 is primarily oral. HIV does not like the mouth and saliva neutralizes the virus pretty effectively. It's why kissing is not considered a risk factor. As a result, HSV1 is not considered a major risk factor for contracting HIV. Also, performing oral sex is considered a very, very low risk activity for HIV. Performing oral on a woman is considered to be an almost no risk activity as the vaginal secretions at the entrance to the vagina don't usually contain high levels of HIV; the most infectious is inside the vagina near the cervix. Giving a blow job is considered only a slight risk because pre-cum and ejaculate can contain HIV in high levels. This is true whether HSV is present or not. Trust me, I've asked a lot of doctors on this one lately. Of course, if you're going downtown with a cold sore, that risk increases a little bit.

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