The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) uses the CD4 molecule, expressed by T helper cells and activated macrophages, as a receptor for entry into host cells. In tissues co-infected with herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1), HIV-1 virions were observed to infect keratinocytes, which, because they lack the CD4 molecule, are normally incapable of being infected by HIV-1.
Although a number of other viruses have been reported to enhance HIV-1 viral transcription in vitro, this is the first in-vivo report to our knowledge of reciprocal enhancement of viral replication associated with co-infection of keratinocytes and macrophages by HIV-1 and HSV-1 in patients with AIDS and non-genital herpes simplex lesions. The virions in the co-infected cells were larger, morphologically atypical, and appear to be hybrids; most contain the HIV-1 envelope necessary for infectivity.
The increased viral load and the proximity of the virions to the cutaneous surface may lead to increased risk of transcutaneous transmission of both viruses.These findings point to the need for incorporation of suppressive treatment for herpes simplex in the treatment of AIDS.