BETA 1999 Year-End: HIV Skin Complications

This article was originally published in 1999. As we've had requests for it, we have made it available as a PDF. Below is the introductory paragraph

HIV Skin Complications in the Age of HAART

An Interview with Toby Maurer, MD

Bruce Mirken

Various dermatological conditions have been associated with HIV disease since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. The purple lesions characteristic of Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) became a symbol for this modern plague. Other skin complications-such as herpes zoster (shingles), herpes simplex, and molluscum contagiosum-were so common that they sometimes were regarded as informal markers of immune deficiency.

While seborrheic dermatitis (discussed later) often appeared with only moderate immune system impairment, other conditions characteristically appeared in the wake of more severe immune depletion and at relatively predictable points. Molluscum contagiosum, for example, was commonly seen when a person's CD4 cell count dropped below 100 cells/mm³, and certain types of fungal infections almost always appeared with a CD4 cell count lower than 50 cells/mm³.

Though generally not lethal, many skin complications are painful, disfiguring, and devastating to a person's self-image and sense of well-being. Like so much in the HIV epidemic, the incidence and occurrence of dermatological conditions have changed dramatically since widespread use of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) began in 1996. Many, but not all, of the common skin problems associated with HIV disease are seen far less frequently now than they were just a few years ago. On the other hand, dermatological manifestations of toxicities associated with drug therapy have emerged as a new problem.

Recently, BETA sat down with Toby Maurer, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) and Chief of Dermatology at San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH), for an update on dermatological issues in the age of HAART.

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HIV Skin Complications in the Age of HAART

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