Hi Dr. Bob: I was diagnosed in 2005 waking up deathly ill, almost died. I didn't know I had the virus, and I was numb. However, the year before I went to my family doctor with a problem. I had an irritating itch on my scalp that wouldn't go away. The doctor examined me, and is an auto immune problem, and gave me some cream to help it. Why on earth didn't he click into the possibility of HIV, after having said it was an auto immune problem. The year after, early 2005 I was in the hospital, my Cd4 count (20). The doctor had to put my in an induced coma to save my life. The doctors in the hospital thought I had brain cancer. I had everything else, BUT not brain cancer. My kids were summoned to the hospital, because the doctor didn't think I was going to make it. Of course.....I was not an obvious HIV probability, so I went through the cracks. I still have the same problem, itchy scalp and loss of hair, and I am being sent to a dermatologist to find a solution. I suspect it has indeed to do with the virus. I am quilty of not going through the archives, because I didn't know how to voice my question properly. Is there a solution? Thank you Dr. Bob. I love your sense of humour. You are a hoot. Iris


Hello Iris,

Situations like yours -- late-stage HIV diagnosis -- remain far too common. We need to educate the general public that HIV remains a threat to all those who are sexually active and those who share needles for injection use. One out of every five of the over 1,000,000 HIV-positive Americans have absolutely no idea they are infected with the virus! We also need to better educate health care professionals to consider HIV in all their patients, not only those from high-prevalence risk categories (gay men, intravenous drug users, etc.).

Regarding your specific question, HIV/AIDS can be associated with a wide variety of dermatological problems. I agree you should see a dermatologist (hopefully an HIV-knowledgeable dermatologist) for evaluation and management of your itchy scalp and hair loss. After all having HIV/AIDS is bad enough without having to go around looking like a Rogaine failure as well, right?

Thanks for appreciating my admittedly twisted sense of humor! Keep smiling, Iris. It makes people wonder what you've been up to!

Good luck. Be well.

Dr. Bob