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Overview of Herpesvirus Infections

By

Kenneth M. Kaye

, MD, Harvard Medical School

Last full review/revision Sep 2021
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Some common viral infections are caused by herpesviruses. Eight different herpesviruses infect people:

Did You Know...

  • All of the herpesviruses cause lifelong infection because the virus remains dormant in some of the cells it infects.

All of the herpesviruses cause lifelong infection because the virus remains within its host cell in an inactive (dormant or latent) state. Sometimes the virus reactivates and produces further episodes of disease. Symptoms from reactivation can be different than the symptoms of the initial infection. Reactivation may occur rapidly or many years after the initial infection. (See also Overview of Viral Infections Overview of Viral Infections A virus is composed of nucleic acid, either DNA or RNA, surrounded by a protein coat. It requires a living cell in which to multiply. A viral infection can lead to a spectrum of symptoms from... read more .)

Treatment of Herpesvirus Infections

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Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infection
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is a viral infection that progressively destroys certain white blood cells. Untreated, it usually leads to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Transmission of HIV requires contact with bodily fluid that contains the virus or cells infected with the virus. Which of the following is not a bodily fluid that commonly transmits HIV? 
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