HSV-2 Has Little to No Effect on HIV Progression

New data challenge the idea herpes simplex virus type 2 has any effect on the viral load and CD4 counts of patients with HIV.


Patients with HIV often also have herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) infection in part because lesions act as entry portals to susceptible HIV target cells. Some research also has suggested that HSV-2 accelerates HIV progression by upregulating HIV replication and increasing HIV viral load, but data are inconclusive, say researchers from the Iranian Research Center for HIV/AIDS, Pasteur Institute of Iran, Iranian Society for Support of Patients With Infectious Disease, Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, and Zanjan University of Medical Sciences in Iran. They conducted a study to investigate HSV-2 seroprevalence in patients with and without HIV and to find out whether HSV-2 serostatus changed as CD4 counts and HIV viral load changed after 1 year.

The researchers compared 116 HIV patients who were not on HAART with 85 healthy controls. The prevalence and incidence of HSV-2 infection were low in the HIV cases and “negligible” in the control group: 18% of naïve HIV patients had HSV-2 IgG, and none of the control patients did.

Few data exist about HSV-2 seroconversion in HIV patients, the researchers say. In this study, HSV-2 seroconversion was found in 2.43% of HIV patients after 1 year.

Co-infection with HSV-2 had no association with CD4 count and HIV RNA viral load changes in the study participants at baseline or over time, the researchers say. CD4 counts after 1 year were 550 cells/mm 3 in the HSV-2 seropositive patients and 563 cells/mm 3 in the control group. The viral load in the seropositive group was 3.97 log copies/mL, and 3.49 log copies/mL in the seronegative group.

The researchers conclude that HIV-HSV-2 co-infection does not seem to play a role in HIV infection progression.

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