A person in Italy has become the first reported case of a person simultaneously testing positive for monkeypox, COVID-19, and HIV – a grim reminder that the world is battling an array of global health issues at the moment.
As reported in the Journal of Infection, the 36-year-old man from Italy had just returned from a five-day holiday in Spain, during which time he had unprotected sex with men. Nine days after returning home, he fell sick with a fever, sore throat, fatigue, headache, and swollen lymph nodes.
Later that same afternoon, he developed a rash on his left arm. The following day he also noticed small, painful blisters across his torso, legs, face, and glutes. At this point, he headed to the emergency room at San Marco University Hospital in Catania.
Tests revealed that he was infected with monkeypox, COVID-19, and HIV-1. The doctors noted that his white cell count suggested the HIV infection was “relatively recent”. The man had taken an HIV test in September 2021 but received a negative result.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared monkeypox a “global health emergency” in late July 2022. As of August 22, there have been approximately 45,535 cases across the world, according to the CDC, most of which have been in Europe and North America.
The skyrocketing outbreak has surprised experts since infection cases are typically linked to parts of Africa where the virus is endemic and naturally found in rats.
In this latest outbreak, the vast majority of cases in the growing monkeypox outbreak are among men who have sex with men, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). However, it shouldn’t be considered a sexually transmitted disease and it’s possible for anyone to catch it.
As this case study typifies, the world is also dealing with a number of other major global public health issues. The doctors say it’s unclear how the three infections may have influenced one another, but they note that it’s important for healthcare workers around the world to know that this is a very real possibility.
“As this is the only reported case of monkeypox virus, SARS-CoV-2 and HIV co-infection, there is still not enough evidence supporting that this combination may aggravate patient's condition,” the doctors write.
“Given the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and the daily increase of monkeypox cases, healthcare systems must be aware of this eventuality,” they add.