Herpes simplex

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is a member of the herpes virus family which also includes varicella zoster virus (VZV) and cytomegalovirus (CMV).

HSV is common in the population. Once infected, the virus stays in skin and nerve cells for life. Most of the time it is dormant and causes no symptoms, but from time to time it can flare up. This tends to happen when the immune system is weakened, in situations of stress, during a cold or on exposure to strong ultraviolet light, even in people without HIV. Such attacks occur more frequently in children and the elderly, since these groups tend to have less efficient immune systems than adults.

There is some evidence that herpes viruses can act as a co-factor in AIDS, activating HIV and making it easier for HIV to infect certain cells. Genital herpes infection also increases the chances of sexual HIV transmission to partners, even when no active lesions are present, particularly in women.1 2 

References

  1. Le Goff J et al. Cervicovaginal HIV-1 and herpes simplex virus type 2 shedding during genital ulcer diseases episodes. AIDS 21: 1569-1578, 2007
  2. Freeman EE et al. Factors affecting HIV concordancy in married couples in four African cities. AIDS 18: 1715-1721, 2004