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Question #1: Oral Hairy Leukoplakia Question #2: Symptoms of Oral Hairy Leukoplakia

Oct 14, 1997

Question 1:

Have you seen any documentation of Oral Hairy Leukoplakia in people with HIV primary infection (ARS), or is this a symptom that only will be found in the later stage of HIV and AIDS ?

Question 2:

Dose it exist a test for Oral Hairy Leukoplakia ? How is Hairy Leukoplakia different from Oral Thrush/Candida infections ? I was reading on another web page that Hairy Leukoplakia ONLY is found in people with HIV/AIDS and people with organ transplant recipients. Is this true ? From scared to death. Thanks for all your information!

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your questions. Oral Hairy Leukoplakia, like other opportunistic diseases, is NOT normally seen with recent HIV infection (including Acute Viral Syndrome). In persons with HIV, it is normally seen during advanced HIV infection, when there is damage to the immune system. Opportunistic diseases can occur with many different diseases of the immune system (not just AIDS). Therefore, if a person has any opportunistic disease, that alone does not mean that person has HIV/AIDS. However, if a person is diagnosed with an opportunistic disease (including Oral Hairy Leukoplakia), the doctor will usually test the person for HIV, and other diseases of the immune system. Symptoms from this infection (and other opportunistic diseases) are normally seen years after infection, NOT weeks or months later.

Hairy Leukoplakia is associated with two viruses together, (Epstein-Barr virus and Human Papilloma Virus). This differs from oral candidiasis which is a yeast infection in the mouth. Most people who have Oral Hairy Leukoplakia have no symptoms at all. If symptoms are present, it can include a white thickening of the oral mucosa and the lateral regions of the tongue. Symptoms from this infection occur more frequently in smokers. Let me STRONGLY emphasize that this is different from just having a whitish tongue! It resembles other conditions in the mouth, and may be confused with oral thrush. Sometimes a person with a weakened immune system can have both Hairy Leukoplakia and thrush at the same time. ONLY a doctor or a dentist can diagnose this infection! Please do not diagnose yourself with this disease! I cannot emphasize this more! If a physician or a dentist suspects a person has Oral Hairy Leukoplakia, they can do a biopsy of the area to confirm a suspected diagnosis.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to e-mail me at "" or call me at 1-800-842-AIDS (Nationwide). I'm glad to help!

Prognosis and Acute Viral Syndrome
PCP Diagnosis Despite Negative HIV Test Result

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