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AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2012 Jun;198(6):1295-304. doi: 10.2214/AJR.11.8003.

What a differential a virus makes: a practical approach to thoracic imaging findings in the context of HIV infection--part 1, pulmonary findings.

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Department of Radiology, Division of Thoracic Imaging and Intervention, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114, USA.

Erratum in

  • AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2013 Dec;201(6):1407.



The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported more than one million people with HIV infection in the United States in 2006, an increase of 11% over 3 years. Worldwide, nearly 34 million people are infected with HIV. Pulmonary disease accounts for 30-40% of acute hospitalizations of HIV-infected patients, underscoring the importance of understanding the pulmonary manifestations in this population. When presented with a chest radiograph or CT image of a patient with the clinical history of HIV infection, one approach is to start by identifying and categorizing key imaging findings. In some instances, the key findings may be further subcategorized to narrow the differential diagnosis, such as distinguishing between perilymphatic distribution and the random distribution of micronodules. The differential diagnosis of these key imaging findings can also be further refined by incorporating clinical data, such as patient demographics, CD4 count, and presenting symptoms. Finally, the change of thoracic disease and clinical status in response to treatment provides important diagnostic information. The purpose of this article is to discuss pulmonary findings in patients with HIV.


By developing a systematic and practical approach to key pulmonary imaging findings in HIV-infected patients, radiologists can generate clinically relevant and succinct differential diagnoses and thereby improve patient care.

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