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Jul 6, 2001

Dear Doctor,

I truly value your opion and believe that it is invaluable what you are doing for everyone.

I just have two questions for you. 1st, the rash described during ARS bascically looks like that of other conditions. My question, how can a dermatalogist identify the rash associated with ARS from that of other skin conditions? Second, does the rash associated with ARS last for weeks or does it usually subside within a week?

Response from Mr. Kull

Acute retroviral syndrome--the acute flu/mono-like illness a person experiences approximately three weeks after infection with HIV--is not diagnosed by signs and symptoms alone. A medical provider can diagnose this syndrome by taking a thorough risk history, doing a clinical examination (which involves an examination of the signs and symptoms), and using tests to screen for HIV infection (PCR, p24, and antibody tests). Acute retroviral syndrome absolutely cannot be diagnosed by symptoms alone, even by the most expert doctor. That's why I discourage people in this forum from doing a trained expert's job on their own.

There is no such thing as a specific "ARS rash"; for instance, a certain type of rash can be associated to many different infections, allergies, etc. The type of rash associated with ARS is usually described as maculopapular (lesions that are small, colored, flat, and raised), is painless, doesn't itch, and is located on the trunk of the body (sometimes the face as well). One study found the average length of ARS symptoms to be about 22 days.

Don't diagnose on your own!


Anal Sex
testing during symptoms

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