Can you die from herpes?

Answer

It is not possible for adults to die from the herpes virus, says Dr. Peter Leone, a member of the National Coalition of STD Directors. However, he explains those with herpes type 2 are more susceptible to contracting HIV, which often leads to AIDS. He also notes that pregnant women may pass on either herpes type to unborn children, resulting in death in rare cases.

Herpes type 1 is associated with lesions in the mouth. It is generally harmless (except in rare cases involving pregnant women) and does not increase the risk of contracting HIV. Dr. Leone explains that it is possible to contract herpes 1 on the genitals, but that because herpes 1 is not adapted for that region, it is unlikely to be reactive in the genitals.

Herpes type 2 and HIV make each other worse, explains WebMD. Herpes sores are full of immune cells, the body's response to fighting infection. Because HIV infects immune cells, if HIV-positive blood, semen or bodily fluid comes into contact with a herpes sore, the results can be explosive. An active herpes 2 infection often causes the HIV virus to go into overdrive, creating more copies of itself and speeding its progression into AIDS. Those with either HIV or herpes 2 should be tested for both infections to receive more targeted treatment.

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