What is the role of HIV infection in the pathophysiology of reactive arthritis (ReA)?

Updated: Dec 24, 2020
  • Author: Carlos J Lozada, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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ReA can occur in patients with HIV infection or AIDS—most likely because both conditions can be sexually acquired, rather than because ReA is triggered by HIV. The course of ReA in these patients tends to be severe, with a generalized rash resembling psoriasis, profound arthritis, and frank AIDS. HLA-B27 frequency is the same as that associated with non–AIDS-related ReA in a similar demographic group. This association points out the likely importance of CD8+ cytotoxic T cells as compared with CD4+ Th cells in the pathogenesis of ReA.

ReA is sometimes divided into epidemic and endemic forms. Whereas a triggering agent can be identified for epidemic ReA, none has been identified for endemic ReA. Differentiation between the 2 types of ReA may be difficult in some cases; however, it is not essential to either diagnosis or treatment.

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