Continue Reading

Differential Diagnosis

  • Influenza
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Streptococcal pharyngitis
  • Mononucleosis
  • Syphilis
  • Upper respiratory infection
  • Viral hepatitis


  • AIDS is diagnosed when the CD4 count falls below 200 cells/mm3 or in the setting of a diagnosis of any AIDS-defining illnesses.
  • The CDC has identified 20 opportunistic infections, including but not limited to the following:
    • Candidiasis of the esophagus, trachea, bronchi, or lungs
    • Cytomegalovirus
    • Toxoplasmosis
    • HIV wasting syndrome
    • Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia
    • Lymphoma, numerous forms
    • Kaposi sarcoma
  • Medications are available that can be taken on a regular basis to prevent opportunistic infections, depending on the individual’s CD4 count.
  • Studies have shown that individuals living with HIV have higher rates of osteoporosis, kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease (lipodystrophy), as well as an overall decreased immune system.

Related Articles


  • There is growing evidence to support the benefit to starting individuals on antiretroviral therapy (ART) as soon as they are diagnosed with HIV to improve mortality rates.
  • There are 6 main classes of drugs used to treat HIV: non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs), nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs), protease inhibitors (PIs), monoclonal antibodies, integrase inhibitors, and entry inhibitors.
  • Recommended therapy consists of a multidrug regimen from at least 2 different drug classes (typically an NNRTI, PI, or integrase inhibitor-based regimen).
  • Medication side effects are still present today, but studies indicate that <10% of ART-naive patients have treatment-limiting adverse reactions.
  • Adherence is a major factor when treating individuals; lack of adherence to treatment can result in drug resistance.
  • When choosing HIV treatment for a patient, multiple factors may guide finding the right options:
    • Drug interactions with non-HIV medications the patient may be taking
    • Comorbidities
    • Side effects
    • Drug resistance
    • Cost and adherence


  • Abstinence is the recommended method for stopping the spread of sexually transmitted HIV/AIDS.
  • Without treatment, the average life span of someone living with AIDS is 3 years.
  • With treatment, those infected with HIV are living much longer and healthier lives.
  • Treatment has significantly reduced the rate of mother-child transmission when the mother is treated prenatally.
  • Barriers to treatment can be difficult to overcome and include cost of medication, drug adherence/resistance, and lack of medical care.