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Viral Opportunistic Infections

Viruses That Infect The Damaged Immune System


Updated June 26, 2014

Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

CMV is a common virus that is related to the Herpes Simplex virus. In healthy people, the virus does not show symptoms (remains dormant). But in an immune system weakened by HIV, the virus multiplies and causes infection throughout the body. When it infects the brain and nervous system, it can cause an inflammation of the brain (encephalitis). It causes pneumonia when in the lungs, abdominal cramps and diarrhea when in the intestinal tract, and hepatitis when in the liver. The most common form infects the eyes and causes a condition known as CMV retinitis.

A Guide to CMV

A Guide to CMV Retinitis

  • Symptoms
    • headache
    • change in mental status
    • cough
    • abdominal pain
    • diarrhea
    • vision changes.

Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)

Two types of HSV cause problems in HIV infected people. HSV-1 causes cold sores or blisters on the mouth or face. HSV-2 causes similar sores on the genital and anal areas.

Genital Herpes Guide

  • Symptoms
    • painful, swollen, fluid filled blisters that break and crust over
    • fever
    • fatigue
    • headache.

Varicella-zoster virus (shingles)

Shingles is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Anyone who has had chickenpox in their lifetime can get shingles.

  • Symptoms
    • small, painful blisters that follow nerve pathways, usually along one side of the body.


Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that is classified into three types:

  • Symptoms
    • fever
    • yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
    • abdominal pain, especially the upper right quadrant.

Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)

EBV is a virus similar to Herpes and is known to cause mononucleosis ("Mono").

  • Symptoms
    • extreme fatigue

Genital warts

Warts that effect the anal and genital areas and are spread by sexual contact.

  • Symptoms
    • Raised bumps or protruding pieces of skin in the anal or genital area.

Your Guide to HPV

Molluscum Contagiosum

These painless warts can occur anywhere on the body but are most common on the face. The major concern with this condition is cosmetic.

What is Molluscum?

  • Symptoms
    • Small white wart-like bumps on the face.

More Opportunistic Infection Fact Sheets

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