Many studies show that the risk of contracting herpes increases by up to 4 times for people living with herpes, provided he/she is exposed to HIV. It is essential to bear in mind that a person who isn’t exposed to HIV isn’t like to get infected. STDs that are known to cause open sores, such as herpes or Syphilis make it easier for the virus to get into the body.
Herpes simplex virus (HSV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are two sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that can have severe consequences for those who contract them. While the two viruses differ, research has shown that people with herpes may be more susceptible to contracting HIV. In this article, we will explore the relationship between herpes and HIV, why herpes may increase the risk of HIV transmission, and what people can do to protect themselves.
What is Herpes?
Herpes is a common STI caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two types of herpes: herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). While both types of herpes can cause genital herpes, HSV-1 is more commonly associated with cold sores or fever blisters around the mouth, while HSV-2 is typically associated with genital herpes.
Herpes is transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected person, most commonly during sexual activity. Herpes can also be transmitted through contact with herpes lesions or sores, even when no symptoms are present. Once infected people with herpes, the virus remains in the body for life, and outbreaks can occur intermittently throughout a person’s life.
What is HIV?
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a viral infection that attacks the immune system, leaving individuals vulnerable to other conditions and diseases. HIV is transmitted through contact with bodily fluids, such as blood, semen, vaginal secretions, or breast milk. It can be spread through sexual contact, sharing needles, or from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding.
HIV is a serious condition that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) if left untreated. While there is no cure for HIV, antiretroviral therapy (ART) can help individuals with HIV manage their condition and live long healthy lives.
The Relationship Between Herpes and HIV
Research has shown that people with herpes may be more susceptible to contracting HIV. This is because herpes can increase the risk of HIV transmission in several ways.
First, herpes lesions or sores can provide a portal of entry for HIV. When a person lives with herpes, the virus can cause sores or lesions on the skin or mucous membranes in the genital area. These sores can break open and become raw, creating a pathway for HIV to enter the body.
Second, herpes can increase the number of HIV target cells in the genital area. When a person is infected with herpes, the virus can cause inflammation in the genital area. This inflammation can cause an increase in the number of immune cells susceptible to HIV infection, making it easier for HIV to establish an infection.
Third, herpes can weaken the immune system. Herpes is known to cause immune system suppression, making it easier for HIV to infect a person and establish an infection.
Finally, herpes can increase the shedding of HIV. When infected with herpes, the virus can cause the shedding of HIV in the genital area, even when no symptoms are present. This shedding can increase the risk of HIV transmission to sexual partners.
Protecting Yourself from Herpes and HIV
The best way to protect yourself from herpes and HIV is to practice safe sex. This means using condoms or dental dams during sexual activity, especially if you or your partner has herpes or HIV. It is also essential to get tested regularly for STIs, including herpes and HIV, and to discuss your sexual health with your partners.
“The risk of contracting herpes increases by up to 4 times for people living with herpes”
As a matter of fact, sexually transmitted infections tend to diminish the body’s ability to fight against foreign agents. Therefore, when you’re already infected with a virus, your body is more susceptible to other infections. The same holds true in the case of Herpes – HIV as well.
What happens when you’re having an infection?
When you have an infection, the immune system produces disease–fighting cells known as macrophages. HIV tends to bind with these cells in mucus membranes in the anus or vagina, eventually making their way into the bloodstream. In case you have an infection in the genital area, macrophages are concentrated there. Giving HIV a better opportunity to enter the body.
People that have both HIV and herpes infections are likely to transmit HIV to people they’re sexually involved with. The presence of the herpes simplex virus tends to increase the HIV viral load (increasing the presence of HIV in the body). As people with HIV have a compromised immune system, they experience more severe and longer herpes outbreaks. This may increase the chances of transmission of the virus.
How can you avoid transmitting/getting the virus?
Regardless of whether or not you’re living with herpes. People that have HIV are advised to follow the below-mentioned guidelines:
- Using condoms or dental dams during anal, vaginal, or oral sex.
- Refraining from having sex in the event of an outbreak.
- Getting tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Besides, encouraging your partner to get tested and treated.
- Reducing the number of sex partners and speaking with them about their previous relationships and medical history.
While both herpes and HIV are incurable, they can certainly be treated, thanks to the inception of antiviral drugs. If you think you might have been exposed to any of these viruses. It is better to get yourself tested immediately. On the other hand, you may also consider joining a specialist herpes dating site. Where you can not only learn more about the STD but also find like–minded people that wish to find a companion living with Herpes or HIV.