Hyderabad: Health experts have identified eight diseases, the presence of which
may indicate human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the body. People diagnosed for any of
these diseases are recommended to undergo HIV test to rule out the possibility of HIV
These diseases are present largely in people with compromised immunity. Since HIV is one
of the major reasons for decline in immunity, doctors suggest an immediate HIV test, so
that the health problem could be effectively tackled through appropriate drug regimen.
Ahead of a major two-day international HIV conference in Copenhagen from March 19 where
new results and guidelines are to be debated, doctors point out that heterosexuals are
at particular risk of carrying HIV for so long that they remain undiagnosed until their
immune system starts to fail and they become ill.
An international study under the leadership of the HIV in Europe initiative has now
revealed that a number of diseases, including herpes zoster and certain forms of cancer,
should be on the list of indicators for having HIV - and thus serve to prompt health care
professionals to suggest an HIV-test to their patients.
Dr Aftab Ahmad, expert in internal medicine at Apollo Hospitals here, concurs with the
finding of the European team. “These diseases are generally found in people with low
immunity levels including those with HIV infection. An HIV test will rule out the
possibility and help in early diagnosis and treatment of HIV. It does not, however mean
that people suffering from any of these eight diseases are likely to be HIV positive. It
is only a precautionary measure. For diseases like Hepatitis B and C, the route of
transmission is same that of HIV,” he observes.
The new eight HIV-defining diseases are sexually transmitted infection, malignant
lymphoma, cervical or anal cancer/dysplasia, herpes zoster, hepatitis B or C, ongoing
mononucleosis-like illness, inexplicable, persistent decline in the number of circulating
white blood cells, and seborrheic dermatitis/exanthema.
Professor Jens Lundgren of Copenhagen HIV Programme, University of Copenhagen, points out
that a vast majority of HIV-defining diseases indicate a weak immune system. “This is a
symptom of HIV and should lead to an immediate HIV test,” Professor Lundgren explains.
“We need to find people living with HIV sooner than is currently the case, but to do so
requires that doctors and other health care professionals offer tests to people
presenting with diseases indicative of a hidden and undiagnosed HIV infection earlier in
the course of the disease.”
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