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Reinfection and secondary infections

Reinfection, or ‘superinfection’ as it is sometimes known, means someone contracting a new or secondary infection from a virus with which they have already been infected.

In some viral diseases such as measles or mumps, reinfection does not occur because the original infection creates immunity. In other viral infections such as colds and flu, reinfection occurs frequently, due to different strains of the virus.

Reinfection with HIV can happen through unsafe sex or injecting with other people with HIV; however it is not common. If you become infected with a different strain of HIV it may limit treatment options, so talk to your doctor about it.

If you and your partner are both on treatment and have undetectable viral loads, you don't need to worry about the possibility of reinfection.

Secondary infections with other diseases (coinfection) such as sexually transmissible infections (STIs) and hepatitis can place additional stress on your body so it's important to have regular health checks to make sure you can act quickly if diagnosed with these other conditions.

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This page was published on 19 September, 2011

This page was reviewed on 22 December 2015