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UVB phototherapy is an effective treatment for pruritus in patients infected with HIV.

BACKGROUND: Pruritus in patients positive for HIV may be debilitating.

OBJECTIVE: Our purpose was to evaluate the efficacy of UVB therapy in the treatment of pruritus in patients positive for HIV.

METHODS: Twenty-one male HIV-positive patients with intractable pruritus (14 with eosinophilic folliculitis and 7 with primary pruritus) were treated three times weekly with UVB phototherapy. Pruritus was quantified with use of a subjective score of 0 (none) to 10 (severe).

RESULTS: Mean CD4 counts at the initiation of therapy were 91.0 +/- 31.9 cells/microliter. Pruritus scores before and after treatment were 8.6 +/- 0.4 and 2.2 +/- 0.5, respectively (p < 0.001). The mean number of treatments to achieve maximal improvement was 20.7 +/- 2.3, with a cumulative UVB dose of 3399.1 +/- 597.4 mJ/cm2. No significant difference was found between the group with eosinophilic folliculitis and the group with primary pruritus.

CONCLUSION: UVB phototherapy can produce significant relief of pruritus and improvement in the quality of life in patients positive for HIV.

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