Sorcerer's Apprentice

Question

Hello, I have a question that may be only answered by a real life wizard, I mean certified medic.
Why is it that lymphadenopathy associated with HIV disease is characterized by enlarged lymph nodes that are generalized (located throughout the body) and that are not painful? Are all viral infection work this way or it is peculiar to HIV ARS?

Answer

Hello Sorcerer's Apprentice,

The enlarged lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy) associated with HIV disease is "generalized" (located throughout the body) because HIV itself is generalized (it circulates throughout the body). The lymph nodes are one of the immune system's lines of defense. The nodes swell in response to the infection and help mount an immunological fight against the invading germ. The swelling is non-painful, primarily because most lymph nodes are located in areas where the surrounding tissue can expand without discomfort (neck, groin, axilla, etc.). Certainly if they expand significantly or if you push on them constantly, they could become tender. But, in general, with HIV disease the nodes just expand to a moderate size unlike in lymphoma (cancer of the lymph glands) where the nodes can be extremely large.

Dr. Wizard.