HIV/AIDS-related skin conditions

  • Learn more about skin conditions that may occur in later stages of HIV/AIDS.

  • This patient, who lives in a resource-poor area of Africa and lacks access to medications, has an uncommon form of disseminated candidiasis. The majority of patients with HIV will develop one of three forms of mucocutaneous candidiasis: oropharyngeal, esophageal or vulvovaginal. Although easily treated with antifungal medications, candidiasis infections can interfere with medication administration and adequate nutrition intake.

  • Molluscum contagiosum is a benign superficial skin disease caused by a poxvirus that occurs in children and adults worldwide. Although on average, lesions are 2mm to 5mm in size, patients with HIV/AIDS can develop “giant” lesions that are ≥15mm in diameter; larger numbers of lesions; and lesions that are more resistant to standard therapy.

  • Oral hairy leukoplakia appears as white corrugated lesions on the tongue & is common among severely immunosupressed patients. Secondary infection with Epstein Barr Virus causes OHL. Lesions are usually asymptomatic but may cause altered taste or discomfort, and are sometimes confused with candidiasis. Specific treatment is generally not necessary, as lesions typically resolve with antiretroviral therapy. If the lesions are ulcerated or unusual, clinicians should biopsy to distinguish from cancer

  • This patient has experienced weight loss due to muscle wastage associated with AIDS and has seborrheic dermatitis, marked by the darker patches on the skin. Although seborrheic dermatitis occurs throughout the general population, it may be a clinical indication that full-blown AIDS has developed in patients who are HIV seropositive.

  • Kaposi sarcoma, a type of vascular cancer once only seen in elderly people of Jewish or Mediterranean descent, is one of the two most common opportunistic diseases associated with AIDS. Its spread, however, is an uncommon cause of death; AIDS patients are more likely to succumb to Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, the other rampant opportunistic infection associated with AIDS.

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As of 2009, more than 33.3 million people worldwide have HIV/AIDS. Most live in developing nations, but more than one million live in the US; of these, 21% are unaware of their infection.


Most people have few symptoms in the first stages of HIV, but may experience influenza-like illness including fever, headache, tiredness and enlarged lymph nodes around the neck and groin area. Testing for HIV is the only way to identify patients who are infected.

Learn more about skin conditions that may occur in later stages of the disease.

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