Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Genital Herpes Health Center

Select An Article
Font Size

Genital Herpes and HIV

Having genital herpes can increase the risk of being infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and it can cause serious problems for people living with HIV.

People who have genital herpes sores are more likely to be infected with HIV during intercourse. When you develop a sore, the immune system tries to heal it, so there are many immune cells concentrated in that spot. Those are the cells that HIV infects. If HIV in semen, vaginal fluid, or blood comes in contact with a herpes sore, the risk for infection is high.

Recommended Related to Genital Herpes

The Basics About Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is a disease caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), of which there are two types. Type 1 (HSV-1) usually causes oral herpes, an infection of the lips and mouth. Symptoms are commonly known as cold sores or fever blisters. In the past, HSV-1 was not known to cause genital herpes, but that is changing, especially among people who begin having sex at a young age. Still, in most cases, genital herpes is caused by the second type of herpes virus (HSV-2). HSV-2 lives in the...

Read the The Basics About Genital Herpes article > >

The Compound Effect of Genital Herpes and HIV

HIV and the genital herpes virus are a troublesome duo. One can worsen the effects of the other. Research shows that when the herpes virus is active, it may cause HIV to make more copies of itself (the process called replication) than it would otherwise. The more HIV replicates, the more of the body's infection-fighting cells it destroys, eventually leading to AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome).

People infected with both HIV and the herpes virus may have longer-lasting, more frequent, and more severe outbreaks of herpes symptoms, because a weakened immune system can't keep the herpes virus under control as well as a healthy immune system can.

Genital Herpes and HIV Treatment Issues

It's more difficult to treat genital herpes if you also have HIV. Higher doses of antiviral drugs are often needed to treat herpes in people with HIV. Also, many people with HIV have strains of the herpes virus that are resistant to treatment with the standard antiviral drugs.

If you take antiviral drugs for genital herpes and the treatment isn't working, your doctor can test the virus you have for resistance. If the virus is resistant, there are other possible treatment alternatives, including the drugs Foscarnet and Vistide. These drugs can be given through an IV, or a Vistide gel can be applied to the herpes sores.

If you have HIV, ask your doctor if you should be tested for genital herpes. If you already know that you have herpes and HIV, discuss treatment options with your doctor.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Debbie Bridges, MD on August 06, 2012
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

STD Overview
Slideshow
BHC Healthy Sex Life
Quiz
 
things your guy wish you knew slideshow
Slideshow
Sex Drive Killers 03
Slideshow
 
Genital Herpes Risks Quiz
Quiz
Young couple holding hands
Quiz
 
Hepatitis Prevent 10
Feature
Herpes Vaccine Study
Video
 
Daughter Development Evaluator
Article
HPV Vaccine Future
Article
 
STD Facts Quiz
Quiz
mother and daughter talking
Tool
 

WebMD Special Sections