The Outbreak

I’ll start with the year 2001. I was 4 years into living with HIV, working long hours, and not getting off until 10:30 pm, picking up my children no later than 11:15 pm to wake up early morning about 6 am to do it all over again. I remember being at work one day, getting ready to administer medication to a client and I felt this really bad itch on the back of my thigh. It was so bad that I went to the restroom to have a look at it.

I associated how it looked with a spider bite because it was a really red circle about the size of a quarter with a small spot that looked as if I was bitten by a spider. The itching wouldn’t stop. It became larger within the next 2 or 3 days, and I became worried since it didn’t look too good.

Herpes symptoms and a diagnosis

I made an appointment with my doctor and decided to cover the so-called spider bite up with gauze because now it looked blistery. By the 5th day, I was sitting in the lobby waiting for the nurse to call my name. I was worried and didn’t know if this had something to do with HIV.

A prescription for Acyclovir

My physician took a look at it and called it herpes. I was in shock: I was now wondering how did I get herpes. I was given a prescription for a medication called Acyclovir (Zovirax) and was told to take it daily.

Experiencing breakouts in different areas

After two years without a breakout since the first one, I stopped taking it. Eight years later, I had the same breakout on the back of my leg in the same exact spot and never had one again. Eleven years later, the last month and a half I have had 3 breakouts: one on my chin, one on my thigh, and one on my bottom lip.

Herpes and HIV co-infection

Did you know that herpes simplex virus (HSV) is linked to HIV?1 For people living with HIV who are immune-compromised, HSV outbreaks can often be severe.1 We also can have an outbreak often. HSV is also an AIDS-defining condition among individuals who have HIV.

By doing some research I found out that, in 2016, 1.4 million cases of HIV was acquired through sexual transmission in people ages 15 to 49 years old.2 HSV-2 infection contributed to approximately 420,000 of those 1.4 million HIV cases.2

Learning to live with HIV and herpes

For me, I am not a doctor. But, I am wondering why now have I had so many outbreaks in such a short time? Do I like it? No. As a matter of fact, I am much more frightened of herpes than I am HIV. This is because an outbreak can appear anywhere and be seen. But it’s something I have to live with just like me living with HIV. I have added some links for you to read in case you to my have an outbreak of herpes.

Additional resources:

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