OBJECTIVES: To examine the incidence of herpes zoster in HIV-1 infection. To assess the prognostic significance of the occurrence of herpes zoster and progression to AIDS or death DESIGN AND METHODS: 146 homosexually active men with known times of HIV-1 seroconversion were identified through the Sydney AIDS Prospective Study and the clinic records of a private medical practice with large caseload of HIV infected homosexual men. Medical records were reviewed for a history of herpes zoster, CD4+ lymphocyte counts, and HIV-1 disease status. Cox's proportional hazards model was used to determine whether herpes zoster predicted progression to AIDS or death. RESULTS: After a mean follow up of 54 months, 30 men (20%) had an episode of herpes zoster and three of these men had one recurrence. The overall incidence of herpes zoster was 44.4 episodes per 1000 person years (95% CI 30.0-63.5). Herpes zoster was not found to be a marker of deteriorating immune functions as measured by CD4+ lymphocyte counts. CD4+ counts did not differ significantly between those with and without zoster at 1 year (551 v 572.10(6)/1, p = 0.79), 2 years (451 v 557, p = 0.11), and 3 years (424 v 481, p = 0.50) following HIV-1 seroconversion. There was no statistically significant difference in progression to AIDS (RR = 1.89, 95% CI 0.80-4.46, p = 0.15) or death (RR = 0.90, 95% CI 0.31-2.65, p = 0.85) from HIV-1 sero-conversion in those who did and those who did not develop herpes zoster. CONCLUSION: The incidence of herpes zoster was consistent with the findings of other studies. There was no association between the occurrence of herpes zoster and progression of HIV-1 disease.
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