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Am J Epidemiol. 1995 Mar 1;141(5):395-404; discussion 405-6.

The spectrum of medical conditions and symptoms before acquired immunodeficiency syndrome in homosexual and bisexual men infected with the human immunodeficiency virus.

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Division of HIV/AIDS, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30329-4018.


The full range and occurrence of medical conditions in persons infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) before they develop illnesses that define acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) have not been systematically or completely described. In a retrospective and prospective cohort study, 1,073 homosexual and bisexual men in three US cities were interviewed and examined twice per year from January 1988 to September 1992. Study participants were from San Francisco, California (273 HIV-seropositive and 432 HIV-seronegative men), Denver, Colorado (107 positive and 129 negative men), and Chicago, Illinois (54 positive and 78 negative men). A total of 305 HIV-positive men had specifiable dates of HIV seroconversion (mean of 15.3 months between the last negative and the first positive HIV antibody test). Besides much increased incidences of thrush (incidence relative risk (IRR) = 23.3) and hairy leukoplakia (IRR = 551), the following conditions also occurred significantly more frequently in HIV-positive men than in HIV-negative men: anal herpes (incidence density (ID) = 10.7/100 person-years; IRR = 7.7); sinusitis requiring antibiotics (ID = 6.2/100 person-years; IRR = 2.1); anal warts (ID = 5.8/100 person-years; IRR = 2.7); seborrhea (ID = 3.8/100 person-years; IRR = 6.6); community-acquired pneumonia (ID = 1.4/100 person-years; IRR = 2.7); skin cancers (ID = 1.0/100 person-years; IRR = 2.2); and seizures, often apparently "breaking through" prior anticonvulsant therapy (ID = 0.8/100 person-years; IRR = 5.6). First episodes of hairy leukoplakia, thrush, and skin cancer occurred at low mean CD4 counts (mean counts were less than 350 cells/microliters) and late in HIV infection (mean times were more than 8 years after HIV seroconversion). Many medical problems, some not widely appreciated, occur in HIV-infected men before they develop AIDS-defining illnesses, signifying considerable morbidity from pre-AIDS HIV infection.

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