|Dr. M.J. Bazos, Patient Handout
HIV-Associated Rheumatic Disease Syndromes
WHAT ARE HIV-ASSOCIATED RHEUMATIC DISEASE SYNDROMES?
HIV-associated rheumatic disease syndromes are a group of inflammatory musculoskeletal
complications seen during the course of infection of the virus that causes AIDS. Painful
joints are usually the first and most common symptom. Other rheumatic disorders
such as Reiters syndrome, psoriatic arthritis, polymyositis, vasculitis and
fibromyalgia can also occur.
Cause of HIV-associated rheumatic disease syndromes
The cause of HIV-associated rheumatic disease syndromes is not clearly defined.
Available evidence suggests several direct and indirect causes from HIV infection.
Health impact of HIV-associated rheumatic disease syndromes
- HIV infection afflicts about one million people in the United States.
- 30%-70% of HIV-infected individuals may develop a rheumatic disease syndrome.
- The presence of a rheumatic disorder worsens the prognosis of HIV infection.
HIV-associated rheumatic disease should be suspected in any individual at high risk
for HIV infection who develops painful joints or any other rheumatic disorder. The
diagnosis is confirmed by the appropriate tests for HIV infection and for the rheumatic
Diagnosis of HIV-associated rheumatic disease syndromes
Treatment of HIV-associated rheumatic disease syndromes
Most patients respond to conventional therapy with a combination of pain relievers
and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Some patients, especially those with
Reiters syndrome and psoriatic arthritis, may not respond as well. Immunosuppressive
drugs may be beneficial. Appropriate physical therapy and occupational rehabilitation are
THE RHEUMATOLOGISTS ROLE IN TREATING HIV-ASSOCIATED RHEUMATIC DISEASE SYNDROMES
Rheumatologists in the United States not only first recognized the rheumatic
manifestations associated with HIV infection, but have also been the leaders in improving
the understanding and treatment of HIV-associated rheumatic diseases. The arthritic
complaints which may affect HIV-infected individuals are best evaluated and treated by a