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Author Topic: Has anyone else lost their immunity to measles?  (Read 5401 times)

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  • Guest
Has anyone else lost their immunity to measles?
« on: November 22, 2006, 03:27:47 PM »
During a recent re-certification process for volunteering in a health care setting, I had my blood antibody levels checked for immunity to rubella and rubeola, (aka. measles, hard red measles, German measles, etc.) and although I had been immunized and/or experienced both infections as a child in the 1960's, I have lost my immunity to both viruses.  No antibodies for either are detectible!  I've been HIV+ for 26 years, AIDS diagnosis for 19 years and a CD4 nadir of 12 in the mid-90's pre-H.A.A.R.T era, so it's not surprising that I've lost immunological memory to these two childhood diseases.  Revaccination isn't possible because both vaccines are an attenuated form of the virus and my antibody response would probably be anergic anyway with my CD4 count currently at an all time high of 225.  The health care institution suggested that I 'avoid children and women of child-bearing age' -- yeah, that's really helpful!  I've done quite a bit of research on the subject and am sarcastically light-hearted about it, but wonder if anybody else has experienced this situation and how they 'deal' with it. 

Offline Eldon

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Re: Has anyone else lost their immunity to measles?
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2006, 03:43:42 PM »
Hello SFscruff,

Thank God I have never had to deal with the measles. You may want to go to this link and read up on some information regarding this topic: http://www.aidsmeds.com/news/20020415clin011.html. This should assist you with some questions.

Make the BEST of each Day!

Offline Eldon

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Re: Has anyone else lost their immunity to measles?
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2006, 03:44:49 PM »

I wish to extend to you a warm WELCOME here at the forums. Here you will find the encouragement, communication, understanding, support, some cries, some laughter, and many of your questions relating to HIV/AIDS answered.

We have a great group of Real People who will listen as well as answer you. We are here to encourage one another and to learn from each other.
Implementing a Positive Mental Attitude will also assit you on your journey in this life as well as a positive impact on your immune system.

Talking to other people helps us see that we are not the only ones with problems. Feel free to come and vent with whatever is on your mind from time-to-time as it is highly therapeutic.

In the interim, you may want to start taking a multi-vitamin, Omega 3 and eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy and avoid processed foods, saturated and trans fats. This will also help you maintain a healthy weight.

Exercise at least three times per week for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Make the BEST of each and every Day!


  • Guest
Re: Has anyone else lost their immunity to measles?
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2006, 05:28:14 PM »
Eldon, thanks for the link, but I couldn't find any information in the article regarding adult immunocompromised patients loosing their immunity to childhood viral diseases.  It dealt with simultaneous infections with acute measles and HIV in children and how the HIV replication appears to decrease, which would make sense given that an outpouring of humoral and cellular immunity to fight the measles infection might also affect the HIV infection.  In an immunocompromised adult lacking protective antibodies, an acute infection with measles would be fatal.  An Infectious Diseases professor at UCSF told me that it's likely that most persons with long-term immune system suppression probably have lost their immunity to 'The Measles' -- it's just that rubella and rubeola antibody tests are very rarely performed and we live in a society where measles outbreaks are rare, so it's largely moot.  Thanks for the response though.


  • Guest
Re: Has anyone else lost their immunity to measles?
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2006, 11:15:04 AM »
Eldon, I'm a bit puzzled by your comment, 'Thank God, I've never had to deal with the measles!'  I thank God that you never have had to either.  However, I'm saddened that you feel free to tell somebody who has no immunity to measles that you are overjoyed that you don't have deal with something I that I do.  Instead of congratulating yourself -- TO ME, mind you -- that you don't have to share my potentially horrendous and fatal future, you might try being genuinely supportive, considerate and wise.  The last thing I would say to a person with a disability or medical condition is 'Thank God, I've never had to deal with that!'  Just a suggestion on civil dialogue and discourse.  SFscruff 


Offline Moffie65

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Re: Has anyone else lost their immunity to measles?
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2006, 12:30:03 PM »
Hey Scruff,

This is a truly interesting question, and one that many should read and comprehend.  This very issue is one that would naturallly be of paramount importance to anyone who really understands the immune system and immune cells, which are usually programmed at a very young age, and live for about 73 years.  This is also one of the reasons why this is such a difficult disease to deal with, as most of the CD4 cells that you and I posess are what are termed, "naieve" or incapable of doing any immune function other than learning.  This is also one of the many reasons why we have to be so very careful not to aquire any childhood sicknesses, as our systems can be totally incapable of fighting them off.  Therefore, we are in danger of actually dying of any of these diseases that are usually so harmless to adults.

I will be watching this thread with great interest and hopefully some of the more astute people here who understand the medical and scientific parts of this disease check in with information we can really use.

Eldon, your answer here was useless and disgusting.  Your continual use of your cut and paste Welcoming post is also not "Keeping it Real" or personable.  Are you really a person with real feelings or are you a computer terminal that is programmed to spread love and light all over the planet?  Get real!!!!!!

Thanks SF scruff.
The Bible contains 6 admonishments to homosexuals,
and 362 to heterosexuals.
This doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals,
It's just that they need more supervision.
Lynn Lavne


  • Guest
Re: Has anyone else lost their immunity to measles?
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2006, 01:09:04 PM »
Tim, thanks so much for the response.  Your reply demonstrates a deep and meaningful understanding of our 'situation.'  My naive monocytes are just about the only thing in me that are naive!  Well some neurons have been erased, but that doesn't really count does it?!  Tee, hee, hee.  I also failed to produce antibodies to the dual series Hepatitis A vaccination series in 2000, oops.  It's like driving at night down the 101 without the headlights on, eventually I'm going to crash into something!

A researcher at UCSF is writing a longitudinal study proposal to perform some in depth study of the whole loss of immunity to childhood diseases in immunocompromised adults 'problem' and what might be done about it.  Those childhood diseases are particularly severe in adults.  Reading about what happened to Native Americans when they were first exposed to measles is quite sobering and sad, sometimes the entire adult populations of communities were killed in a matter of days.

But regardless, I'm eating lots of omega-3 fatty acids, exercising daily and making the best of every day!


Offline PeteNYNJ

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Re: Has anyone else lost their immunity to measles?
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2006, 01:46:27 PM »

I also lost my immunity to measels.  Even though my cd4 is high and VL is low, my doctor didnt think it was neccessary to revaccinate me since I am not around a lot of children. 

I had no idea that your vaccinations could run their course...strange.

Good luck with everything



  • Guest
Re: Has anyone else lost their immunity to measles?
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2006, 02:37:30 PM »

You're the first other person I've encountered who's lost their immunity to measles.  Hopefully, this thread  and discourse will help us understand and cope.

If you don't mind me asking, how did you find out?  Was it a routine screening?  Did your doctor recommend revaccination?  One nurse at the clinic where I'm a patient was all eager to revaccinate me, but luckily I'd done enough research in advance to know to refuse vaccination with an attenuated viral vaccination.  The clinic has adopted protocols since then. 

I'm not around children much either, so the risk is minimal.  But in San Francisco there is a supposedly a large population of children who have not been vaccinated against basic childhood diseases and isolated measles outbreaks do occur. 

Thanks for posting and good luck to you too!



Offline bocker3

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Re: Has anyone else lost their immunity to measles?
« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2006, 10:00:00 PM »
I don't know if I'm going to throw more confusion here or simply bring up a "similar, but different" scenario.  Anyway -- here goes:
I've actually had the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccination 3 or 4 times, because I have never been able to maintain detectable antibodies -- although they do appear initially.  What is different here, is that this all occurred BEFORE I got infected with HIV (although, perhaps it is time to retest).  The thought has been that my antibody titer had gone down, but would probably shoot up if I came across the antigen.  Not sure if that would be different now.  Interestingly, when I had all my initial lab work up after testing positive last year, I had no detectable antibodies to Hep B, despite having had the vaccination series, but I DID have antibodies to Hep A -- never had the vaccine, but actually had Hep A a few years back.  My doc had me get a booster of Hep B vax to see how I respond -- I should get results in a couple of weeks.
Again, not sure how it fits here, but thought I would share.

Atripla - Started 12/05
Reyataz/Norvir - Added 6/06
Labs - Pre-Meds
Sep05 T=350/25% VL98,559
Nov05 288/18%  47,564
Current Labs
May2015 969/28% <20


  • Guest
Re: Has anyone else lost their immunity to measles?
« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2006, 11:06:52 PM »

Thanks for sharing your experience, it is indeed perplexing.  It certainly does fit in here and you must have had quite a challenge trying to figure it all out.  I'm glad that these forums are available for us to communicate, I thought I was perhaps alone in my situation of knowing that I didn't have protective antibodies.

I've read that there is a small percentage of otherwise immunocompetent responders to the MMR vaccinations who don't have antibody titers detected after an initial antibody response, but their immune systems would still mount a response if exposed to any of the three viruses.  So you must be one of those persons the literature was referring to.  I skimmed over that information when I was reading up on the subject last year because it didn't apply to me.  I'll go back to the original medical texts and literature and read more carefully and will post some summaries and references as to what I find.

I had rubella and rubeola as a child and then was vaccinated against them ('just in case' -- thanks to my dear overprotective mom!) when entering grade school.  So I should have had detectible protective antibodies when I seroconverted, then my immune system was/is ravaged for a few decades and nothing was detectable in 2005.  Theoretically, given my scenario, I shouldn't be able to mount a response if infected with measles of either type.

I was vaccinated against Hep B in 1986 when I'd been HIV+ for six years, but as the CD4 assays weren't available where I was then living, I don't know what my counts were.  I was surprised to discover that I've still managed to hang on to a few Hep B antibodies as of last year, perhaps an asymptomatic exposure caused some production.  I'll have myself revaccinated with a double dose Hep A vaccination series if/when my CD4's ever raise above the 300 u/l mark.

Thanks so much for responding and I'll hit the UCSF medical library this weekend (only if it's raining, otherwise, next week!).  Best wishes for a response on your Hep B antibody results!


Offline IzPoz

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Re: Has anyone else lost their immunity to measles?
« Reply #11 on: November 28, 2006, 11:12:32 PM »
My doctor recently checked my antibodies for Hep A and B, and found I had none.  So, I'm going through the series of boosters to remedy that (I hope).  I never considered the measles vaccinations wearing off.  Wonder if I should have him check that for me.
The reason angels can fly is that they take themselves so lightly. ~ Chesterton G. K.

Offline gerry

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Re: Has anyone else lost their immunity to measles?
« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2006, 01:04:55 AM »
This is a problem in pediatric HIV patients, specifically those who acquired the infection perinatally (since these infants are not immune from measles and are susceptible as soon as they lose maternal antibodies).  There are pediatric guidelines regarding timing of measles vaccination: Link  Losing previously acquired measles immunity has also been reported in pediatric HIV patients: Link.  In other immunocompromised conditions, such as allogenic bone marrow transplant recepients, loss of long-term immunity to MMR has been documented: Link  It's probably one of those areas that have not been studied well in adult HIV, partly because the incidence is quite sporadic.

Offline penguin

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Re: Has anyone else lost their immunity to measles?
« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2006, 05:50:31 AM »
um,this study from march 04’s Blood journal, might be of interest - keep scrolling down till you get to “Loss of antigen-specific humoral immunity in HIV-1 infection”

looks at loss/decrease in immunity to measles & tetanus in previously vaccinated/naturally exposed HIV+ adults, particularly in relation to low and normal memory b cell levels.



  • Guest
Re: Has anyone else lost their immunity to measles?
« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2006, 11:17:36 AM »
Gerry and Kate, thanks so much for your postings!  Your responses with the links to the journal articles are exactly what I was hoping might get included in this thread along with responses from other persons who have discovered their lack of protective measles antibodies.  My medical chart is tagged 'Rubella and Rubeola Antibody Deficient' and supposedly there's a stock of immunoglobulins waiting in some fridge at UCSF if a patient without protective antibodies shows up with symptoms of measles.  Since the incidence of both measles is indeed low, it's something I/we will most likely never have to face, but advance preparation and acceptance is just about the only thing to do.  I'll print out the articles and then spend a few hours with the on-line Medscape dictionary and try to figure the technical details out --- and realize (yet again) that my Biology 101 course in college 23 years ago needs quite a bit of refreshing.  My gratitude to you both! 

Just an aside, are they still called 'German' measles?  If so, is it just me, or doesn't that sound a bit politically incorrect?!


Offline PeteNYNJ

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Re: Has anyone else lost their immunity to measles?
« Reply #15 on: November 29, 2006, 11:33:37 AM »

Sorry for getting back to you so late.  My doctor did a full blood work up after I tested poz and found that I had lost immunity to measels.  I was only poz for about 2 months at this time (I know when I was infected) so I cant imagine that HIV had anything to do with it but who knows.  He was on the fence about revaccinating because measels are so rare now and I am not around a lot of children so we decided against it.  I am going for my yearly physical next month so I will revisit it with him. 

Also - I have a friend who is HIV neg who lost all her immunities to her childhood vaccinations so I guess it more common then we think.



  • Guest
Re: Has anyone else lost their immunity to measles?
« Reply #16 on: November 29, 2006, 12:05:21 PM »
IzPoz and Pete,  thanks for your replies.  It is indeed a puzzling and challenging topic.  It somewhat reminds me of looking at reflections of reflections in mirrors.  Argh, I'm getting silly, sorry. 

The incidence of measles is indeed rare.  However, occasional outbreaks do occur.  My medical chart is tagged  'Rubella and Rubeola Antibody Deficient' so that if I ever show up at the emergency room (and an acute infection in an adult immunocompromised patient would advance very quickly) the medical providers would have an extra clue as to what might possibly be happening.  I don't want to languish in an emergency or urgent care clinic while I'm endlessly poked and prodded when a possible answer could be five words closer.  A quick blood draw would reveal the presence of an acute rubella and rubeola infection and specific immunoglobulins could be administered to me.  I don't want to have a gaggle of doctors hovering over me speculating endlessly while I get sicker and sicker.  I've accompanied enough sick friends and lovers to the emergency room to know first hand what can go wrong.

Thanks again for your interest and comments.

SF Scruff - Darin

Offline Ann

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Re: Has anyone else lost their immunity to measles?
« Reply #17 on: November 29, 2006, 12:24:55 PM »
Hi Darin,

"German" measles are what is now called rubella. And yes, wasn't very PC.

I don't have any experience with losing immunity but I've found this subject very interesting. It might well become more of a concern as time goes on because many parents are not having their kids immunized with the MMR vaccine - for fear of autism. (there is some evidence of a link)

I'm not sure I'd do anything about it if I were to find I'd lost my immunity. I had a bad reaction to the HBV vaccine and I'm now wary of any vaccine. My doc is too... even when I got my flu shot it came with loads of "are you sure you want to chance this?" from the nurse. (I took the chance and I was fine with it)

Thanks for bringing this up and I hope you get more responses.

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  • Guest
Re: Has anyone else lost their immunity to measles?
« Reply #18 on: November 29, 2006, 01:46:01 PM »

Thanks for your reply.  I've had my medical chart tagged, I guess that's just about the best I can do at this point.  Re vaccination with a live attenuated virus isn't possible, as in an immunocompromised patient, it might actually cause a full-blown infection of the disease itself.

I've been told that those awful reactions to the flu vaccinations are one of those 'good news + bad news' situations.  The flu-like symptoms are supposed to be indicative of our bodies mounting an antibody response to the vaccination.  And the bad news, well, you know firsthand.

I'm trying to think of some other diseases with egregious nationality names that need to be changed and am coming fortunately up blank.  I remember when Kaposi's sarcoma was called 'Gay Cancer' and still can't believe that that kind of horrific term even existed!

Thanks again!



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