At least 50% of patients have an acute illness associated with seroconversion. The illness usually occurs within 6 weeks of infection and is characterised by fever, night sweats, malaise, severe lethargy, anorexia, nausea, myalgia, arthralgia, headache, photophobia, sore throat, diarrhoea, lymphadenopathy, generalised maculoerythematous rash and thrombocytopenia. Neurological manifestations including meningoencephalitis and peripheral neuritis are commonly observed. Acute HIV infection should be considered in the differential diagnosis of illnesses resembling glandular fever. This illness is self-limiting and usually revolves within 1 to 3 weeks. However, chronic lethargy, depression and irritability may persist after the acute illness. Non-specific viraemic sequelae such as mucosal ulceration, desquamation, exacerbation of seborrhoea and recurrences of herpes simplex may occur (see Fig. 24.1).
Acute illness may be accompanied by neutropenia, lymphopenia, thrombocytopenia, and mildly elevated ESR with serum transaminases. During recovery a lymphocytosis may occur with appearance of atypical mononuclear cells and an inversion of the CD4+:CD8+ ratio due to elevation of
Differential diagnoses are given in Table 24.3 .
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