CDC reported this week that there have been 704 cases of measles in 22 states since January 1, 2019. That’s the most cases in 25 years. Measles is a highly contagious and potentially life-threatening disease. There are no treatments and no cures for measles, but it can be prevented with a vaccine.
The news of the measles outbreaks across the country is a reminder that vaccination is a simple, safe, and effective way to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and neighbors from a number of diseases, including measles. If you have HIV, it’s very important to get the right vaccines. Because measles is spreading so quickly right now, it’s critical to know your vaccination status and if a measles vaccine is recommended for you.
If you have HIV, talk with your doctor about the MMR vaccine that can protect you against measles, mumps, and rubella. You likely need to get vaccinated if you were born after 1956 and have not already gotten this vaccine, or if you do not have immunity to measles.
The vaccine is safe if your CD4 count is 200 or greater. However, if your CD4 count is less than 200, the MMR vaccine is not recommended. That’s because it is a “live” vaccine, so it poses significant risk to severely immunocompromised individuals.
If you know you have been exposed to measles and your CD4 count is less than 200, talk to your doctor about whether post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) with immunoglobulin may be an option for you. PEP may provide some protection or lessen the severity of infection if it occurs. If your CD4 count is 200 or greater, PEP can also include getting the MMR vaccine. Ideally, PEP should be administered within 72 hours of the exposure to measles.