HIV and Herpes: How They’re Different

can herpes turn into HIV

People with herpes simplex virus (HSV) are more likely to get HIV, and vice versa, but one does not cause the other. HSV causes outbreaks of blisters, and open sores make it easier for other viruses, like HIV, to enter the body. Herpes can also alter the vaginal and anal microbiomes, weakening their ability to fight off infections. HIV attacks the immune system, making it harder for the body to defend against illnesses. Both HIV and herpes are sexually transmitted diseases, so having one increases the risk of getting the other. If untreated, HIV can progress to AIDS.


Causes and Risk Factors

Anything that increases your risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or disease (STD) also raises your chances of contracting HSV or HIV. Herpes spreads mainly through skin-to-skin contact, while HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids. Sharing needles, syringes, or unsterilized drug equipment can increase your risk of getting HIV.

Nowadays, it’s uncommon for someone with HIV to develop AIDS, thanks to highly effective modern treatments. However, if you get HIV and don’t receive prompt medical care, your risk of developing AIDS increases.


How to Manage Each Condition

If you have HSV, taking antiviral medications like acyclovir, famciclovir, or valacyclovir can help prevent or shorten outbreaks. Home remedies and changes to how you live can also make symptoms better and lessen how often outbreaks happen.

When your skin is clear of lesions, you’re less likely to get HIV if exposed. Another way to lower your risk of contracting HIV, whether you have HSV or not, is by talking to your doctor about PrEP. PrEP is a pill you take every day to stop HIV.

But if you have HIV, ART can help you feel better. ART can make the virus undetectable and strengthen your immune system. When HIV is undetectable, it won’t progress to AIDS. A stronger immune system also makes you less likely to get HSV or other illnesses.


Reducing the Risk of Getting HIV or HPV

The best way to lower your risk of HSV and HIV is to practice safer sex. Here are some safer sex practices:

  • Use condoms and other barriers during all sexual activity.
  • Make sure to regularly get tested for STIs.
  • Ask your partners if they have any STIs.
  • Avoid sex with people who have an outbreak or aren’t treating their STI.
  • Think about PrEP after talking about it with a doctor.
  • Additionally, use sterile equipment for injecting medications or IV substances to reduce your risk of HIV.


When to Get Tested

If you think you might have caught HIV or another sickness from sex, go see a doctor and get tested as soon as possible. This is really important, especially if you notice any strange or new symptoms like:

  • rash
  • fever
  • chills
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • sore throat
  • night sweats
  • loss of appetite

If it’s been less than 72 hours since possible HIV exposure, see a healthcare professional immediately. They might give you something called postexposure prophylaxis (PEP). You need to start taking it within 72 hours and keep taking it every day for 28 days to lower the chance of getting sick. The CDC recommends testing for HSV only if you have genital sores or lesions. Increased discharge, painful urination, or other genital symptoms might indicate a different STI.


Herpes Symptoms

There are two kinds of herpes: HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 usually shows up around the mouth or face, while HSV-2 typically shows up around the private parts or bottom. But sometimes, HSV-1 can be found around the private parts, and HSV-2 can be found around the mouth or face.

Lots of people who have HSV don’t even know it. Severe symptoms are rare, and most people have mild or no symptoms. If symptoms appear, it’s usually within two to 12 days after exposure.

HSV-1 often causes fluid-filled blisters around or inside the mouth, called cold sores or fever blisters. These sores can be painful and itchy, oozing and crusting over.

HSV-2 usually gives you genital herpes, which can cause:

  • Sore, itchy blisters or bumps around the private parts, bottom, or mouth.
  • Ulcers that ooze pus or blood
  • Pain while urinating
  • Vaginal or penile discharge

After the first outbreak, symptoms may never return or may come back occasionally, known as recurrent herpes outbreaks.


HIV Symptoms

Can Herpes Turn Into HIV?

Flu-like symptoms are often the first sign of HIV, showing up about two to four weeks after being exposed. However, only about two-thirds of people show any symptoms. If you think you might have come into contact with something, it’s a good idea to get tested, even if you feel okay.

Without getting help, HIV can turn into AIDS, which is a worse stage of the sickness.

Symptoms of AIDS can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • Long-lasting diarrhea
  • Pneumonia
  • Rashes
  • Mouth pain, sores, or white coating
  • Memory loss
  • Other symptoms from specific infections or cancers


Many AIDS symptoms are due to opportunistic infections that exploit the weakened immune system. The herpes virus is one type of infection that people with HIV can get.

While HSV/Herpes won’t turn into HIV on its own, it will increase your chances of contracting it. Scientists have found out why people with genital herpes sores are more likely to get HIV, even when the sores are treated. This could help improve HIV prevention strategies.

Genital herpes, caused by HSV-2, is a common sexually transmitted infection and increases the risk of HIV by 2 to 3 times. People with HSV-2 often have recurring sores and breaks in the genital skin. Researchers thought these sores were the reason for the higher HIV risk. However, clinical trials showed that treating herpes sores with acyclovir did not lower the risk of HIV infection.


Are HIV and Herpes the Same?

Herpes and HIV are not the same, but they’re both infections you can get through sex, caused by different germs. They have some symptoms and risks in common, though.

Herpes, from the herpes simplex virus (HSV), causes sore blisters around the private parts, bottom, or mouth. HIV, from the human immunodeficiency virus, makes it tough for your body to fight off sicknesses. Without treatment, HIV can progress to AIDS.

Herpes sores can increase your risk of getting or spreading HIV during sex. Also, HIV can make it more likely for herpes outbreaks to happen because it affects the immune system. Understanding the differences between these viruses and their treatments is important.


Know if You Have HIV or Herpes for the Proper Solution

Learn how to protect yourself from HIV and herpes by practicing safer sex and getting tested regularly. It’s really important for your sexual health to know the signs and dangers of these infections. If you think you might have been in contact, it’s smart to see a doctor and get checked. Remember, learning about these things gives you the power to protect yourself, so make sure to get informed and take steps to stay safe and healthy.


Scroll to Top