What is the role of varicella-zoster virus in the ocular manifestations of HIV infection?

Updated: Jun 12, 2019
  • Author: Robert A Copeland, Jr, MD; Chief Editor: Andrew A Dahl, MD, FACS  more...
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VZV is morphologically identical to HSV. Like HSV, VZV can establish latency after primary infection with subsequent reactivation of the disease when the host's immune system is compromised. Primary VZV infection (ie, chickenpox) is spread by airborne respiratory droplets that contain the virus or by direct contact with cutaneous lesions. It is extremely contagious to susceptible individuals. VZV primary infection usually develops during childhood, and the disease tends to be mild and self-limited.

VZV keratitis occurs in fewer than 5% of patients who are HIV positive, but it may cause permanent visual loss. The prevalence of VZV keratitis is higher in HIV-infected patients than in the general US population.

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