What are the cutaneous manifestations of HIV disease?

Updated: Mar 26, 2021
  • Author: Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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Cutaneous manifestations of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease may result from HIV infection itself or from opportunistic disorders secondary to the decline in immunocompetence from the disease. [1] Cutaneous disorders may be the initial signs of HIV-related immunosuppression. Recognizing HIV-related skin changes may lead to the diagnosis of HIV infection in the early stages, allowing initiation of appropriate antiretroviral therapy. Many associated skin diseases are more severe in this group. With the use of antiretroviral therapy, the incidence of some of these skin disorders has declined, but the incidence of drug reactions and other noninfectious skin eruptions has been enhanced. [2]  People living with HIV infection may not be at increased risk of catching coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and developing severe manifestations, although considerable concern remains. [3] Cutaneous manifestations of COVID-19 include vasculopathic symptoms, [4] which, in some HIV patients, may suggest the development of Kaposi sarcoma.

A variety of neoplastic, infectious, and noninfectious diseases can produce cutaneous manifestations throughout the course of HIV disease. These manifestations may occur more frequently than in persons without HIV infection and may be less responsive to usual treatment modalities.

For other discussions of HIV infection, see HIV Disease, Pediatric HIV Infection, and Antiretroviral Therapy for HIV Infection.

For patient education information, see HIV/AIDS.

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