Incidence and risk factors of herpes zoster among hiv-positive patients in the german competence network for HIV/AIDS (KompNet): a cohort study analysis
Springer Science and Business Media LLC -- BMC Infectious Diseases
DOI 10.1186/1471-2334-13-372
  1. Herpes zoster
  2. HIV
  3. Highly active antiretroviral therapy
  4. Risk factor analysis


HIV infection is a risk factor for the development of Herpes zoster (HZ) and its complications. Prior to antiretroviral therapy (ART), HZ incidence in HIV-infected individuals ranged from 2.9–5.1/100 person-years. There is limited evidence for the impact of ART on HZ occurrence among HIV-infected adults. We analysed the incidence of, and risk factors for, HZ in a large cohort of German HIV-positive patients.


The study population was taken from the German KompNet cohort, a nationwide multicenter HIV cohort study. The study population was defined by age (≥ 18 years), year of first positive HIV diagnosis, CD4 values ± 6 months from HIV diagnosis (t0), and month of HZ diagnosis. Incidences were estimated using a Poisson distribution, and uni- and multivariate Cox proportional Hazard ratio (HR) regression models were fitted to identify risk factors for developing an initial HZ episode. Independent variables were sex, age at HIV diagnosis, route of HIV transmission, ART status, CD4 count before HZ episode, immunosuppressive medication, and mode of data documentation (retrospective or prospective).


HZ incidence in the overall study population was 1.2/100 person-years. In a subset of patients for that we were able to examine risk factors the following was observed: We examined 3,757 individuals whose mean age at t0 was 38 years. Of those individuals, 96% were diagnosed with HIV in 1996 or later, with a mean observation time of 5.8 years. HZ episodes (n = 362) were recorded in 326 patients (8.7%), resulting in annual HZ incidences of 1.7/100 person-years overall, and 1.6/100 person-years for initial HZ cases. The main risk factors associated with an initial HZ episode were: not partaking in ART compared with an ART regimen containing a non-nucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitor (HR 0.530, p < 0.001) or a protease inhibitor (HR 0.624, p = 0.004); and lower CD4 count by 100 cells/μl (HR 0.918, p=0.001).


HZ incidence was 4-11-fold higher than in non HIV-infected individuals, but in our study HZ incidences were lower than in previous studies relating to HIV-positive patients. We showed that ART is an important protective factor for HZ episodes.