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Which lymph node swelling should prompt HIV testing?
May 3, 2003

Which particular lymph nodes would be suspicious for hiv infection. I realize they can't be used to diagnose hiv infection, but in the presence of a high risk exposure, and harsh viral symptoms following several weeks later, I think it's a fair question. Which nodes swelling should send someone to the doctor for an hiv test?

Response from Dr. Dezube

I too think it's a fair question, i.e. which lymph node testing should prompt HIV testing. There's no easy answer to this. HIV typically causes swelling of lymph nodes in most sites, internal and external-- These could include lymph nodes in the neck, armpit, groin and so on. One group of swollen nodes is not necessarily more or less worrisome than another group of nodes with regard to HIV testing. Nodes that persist for more than a month or so worry me more than the typical nodes which come and go after a routine upper respiratory infection. The vast majority of folks with enlarged lymph nodes do NOT have HIV; rather their body is fighting off an infection. I have a very low threshhold for ordering HIV testing in sexually active patients. Knowledge is power. Certainly in your case, high risk exposure and viral symptoms, HIV testing is very appropriate.


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