When I woke up this morning I felt a tingle on my bottom lip so I rushed to the bathroom mirror. Lo and behold, a cold sore, just what I’d been dreading. If there’s one thing guaranteed to knock my confidence more than anything else it’s a big old coldsore – flashing away like a belisha beacon.
I’ve not had a coldsore since becoming HIV+, and they’re nasty fuckers at the best of times, but now, as well as blighting my face, it appears they mess with my mind.
To explain why I must first give a very brief explanation of how HIV works.
Your immune system relies on T-Cells, some of these T-cells produce a protein called CD4 which helps your body fight infections. The HIV virus invades these cells, hijacks them and uses them to replicate the HIV virus – like mini HIV factories. So instead of fighting infections your immune system is actually busy producing the HIV virus and not helping you out at all! The result is the you’re much more susceptible to opportune infections, colds etc.
Knowing this, every time I get a cold, the flu or indeed a cold sore, I start to panic a little inside. I know, that despite treatment, my immune system isn’t as good as most people’s. I start to wonder what my CD4 count is, I speculate whether this sniffle is more than just a sniffle – is it the symptom of something more.
This is my first coldsore as a HIV+ person, will it clear as quickly as they did before? Will it spread? Should I let my doctor know ? Am i alright to take the usual medications that I used to? As I’m seeing my doctor this week I might well bring it up – that’s if he doesn’t notice it first.
Now, where’s that paper bag? I’m sure I could cut more eye-holes in it…