Herpes Zoster (shingles)

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, SeropositivoOrgThe shingle is an infection caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox (the varicella-zoster virus, which is a type of herpes virus). You cannot develop shingles unless you have had a previous chickenpox infection (usually as a child). Shingles can occur in people with suppressed immune systems, which include people with HIV and people over 60 years of age (especially those who have diabetes, cancer, or another disease that can suppress immunity).

More than 90% of people in the United States have antibodies to the varicella-zoster virus and many develop chicken pox at some point in their lives, usually when they are school-age children. Although chicken pox lesions heal, the virus does not die - it continues to live quietly in the nerve cells near the spine. Since the immune system cannot kill the virus completely, it can prevent the virus from becoming active again, usually for the rest of the infected person's life. However, if the immune system becomes suppressed, the virus can escape the nerve roots and become active. Instead of coming back as chicken pox (varicella), he comes back as shingles (zoster).

When the shingle occurs, it affects only one side of the body, usually in the form of a belt-shaped band along a single line of nerves. The most common areas are the back, the upper belly or the face. It can also affect the eyes and more rarely the inner ear. The shingle can be very painful, but it can be treated.

You cannot transmit shingles to someone who has had chicken pox in the past or who has been vaccinated against the varicella-zoster virus. However, the rash can “harbor” the varicella-zoster virus. Someone who has not had chicken pox or has not been vaccinated against the virus can develop chicken pox if they come into contact with shingles.

, SeropositivoOrgApproximately 3% to 5% of people infected with the varicella-zoster virus will suffer from shingles at some point in their lives, most of them after the age of 50. The shingle is 15 to 25 times more likely to occur in HIV-positive people, regardless of their CD4 cell count. In other words, the CD4 cell count does not have to be low for the person to be at risk; the disease can develop even when the immune system appears relatively healthy. In HIV-positive people with significant suppression of the immune system (CD4 cell count below 50), there is an increased risk of zoster infection in other parts of the body, including the retina at the back of the eye. This can result in rapid blindness.

Rodrigo S Pelegini
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