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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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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