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Why do AIDS patients get rare diseases?
Oct 30, 2001

I'm really confused. Why do AIDS patients contract rare diseases? So called 'indicator diseases'?Rare forms of pneumonias, cancers etc. Why not just the common cold?

Response from Dr. Feinberg

People with HIV get specific unusual diseases because their immune system has been severely damaged. Ordinary germs can infect healthy people-- you don't need to have an immune deficiency to get a cold. Not all immune deficiencies are alike. There are different 'arms' of the immune system. HIV infection most heavily damages the 'cellular immunity' arm, and germs that are normally attacked by the cellular immune defenses in healthy people are the ones that can cause typical AIDS-indicator diseases.

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