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Skin Conditions
May 12, 1997

When you say that a person with HIV infection is more prone to skin infections, what type of skin infections are you referring to? What exactly is Scabies? What does it look and feel like and how is it transmitted? Thanks!

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question.

Persons with damaged immune systems (including AIDS) are more likely to get skin problems, than the general population. Some of these skin problems are due to:

opportunistic infections (for example, Kaposi's Sarcoma). other STD's that are more severe in persons with AIDS (for example Molluscum Contagiosum). Non-specific rashes (for example, the rash associated with Acute Viral Syndrome). Skin problems due to side effects to medications (for example, the rash associated with the use of Viramune, an antiviral drug). Increased incidence of dry skin, folliculitis, and other skin problems.

These are just a few of the many skin problems seen in persons with HIV/AIDS. I must strongly stress that having symptoms of skin problems alone, do NOT indicate a person has HIV! For example, having dry skin does NOT indicate HIV infection! But in persons with HIV/AIDS, skin problems like this (and those above) can occur more often, or may be more severe. Please read the post, "A MESSAGE FROM RICK SOWADSKY ABOUT SYMPTOM QUESTIONS", regarding symptoms associated with HIV/AIDS. Remember, you cannot assume any skin problems are related to HIV/AIDS, without seeing a physician first, and having laboratory tests done!

In regard to scabies, this is a separate infection. Anybody can get scabies, regardless of whether they have HIV or not. This is due to a small mite. This mite literally burrows beneath your skin, and causes severe itching and redness to the skin. Symptoms usually begin 2-6 weeks after infection in persons who have never had this infection before. In persons who have had this infection before, the symptoms can begin 1-4 days after re-infection. This infection is transmitted primarily by direct body-to-body contact, which can include sexual contact. This infection can also occasionally be transmitted through non-sexual means (including bed sheets and underwear) to other members of the household. Because the symptoms of this infection resemble those of other skin problems, you must see a physician to have this diagnosed. This is a curable infection, although a person can become re-infected in the future, if they become exposed once again.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).



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