Comparative Study
Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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Cutaneous disease and drug reactions in HIV infection.

BACKGROUND: Skin diseases, including adverse reactions to drugs, are thought to be more common among patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) than among other persons. These skin conditions can be disabling or disfiguring and may require discontinuation of essential drugs.

METHODS: We identified 684 HIV-infected members of a 265,000-member health maintenance organization and reviewed their medical records to determine the frequency of dermatologic diagnoses from April 1, 1988, through January 15, 1991. We compared the rates of visits per year for skin conditions by HIV-infected men, 20 to 49 years of age, with those by non-HIV-infected men. We used an automated prescription data base to quantify exposures to drugs.

RESULTS: Of the 684 HIV-infected patients, 540 (79 percent) were given one or more dermatologic diagnoses, for a total of 2281 diagnoses, including 188 cutaneous reactions to drugs. There were 43 hospitalizations for cellulitis (n = 15), cutaneous drug reactions (n = 13), or other skin problems. As compared with non-HIV-infected men, the men with AIDS had visit rates that were at least 5 times higher for 18 of the 20 most common infectious and inflammatory skin conditions and at least 15 times higher for 9 conditions. Drugs with the highest rate of cutaneous reactions (per 1000 courses) included trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (149), sulfadiazine (200), trimethoprim-dapsone (156), and aminopenicillins (93). The number of diagnoses of skin conditions increased according to the stage of disease: it was lowest in patients immediately before the documentation of HIV infection and highest in patients with a diagnosis of AIDS.

CONCLUSIONS: Cutaneous diseases, including drug reactions, are extremely common in patients with HIV infection, and their incidence increases as immune function deteriorates.

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