Don't Forget To Test For HIV
We have noticed that doctors often test for EBV, toxo or CMV when seeing a local patient with fevers, lymphadenopathy or rashes. The range gets extended to arboviruses (eg dengue or zika), lyme disease or others when travel is mentioned. Please don’t forget to test for HIV when considering viral illness or chronic, perplexing symptoms. There is highly effective treatment available, and HIV, Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B can all cause enigmatic symptoms. It is important to diagnose these treatable infections. They should be considered to be normal mainstream tests when investigating symptomatic people.
Informed consent is easy. Insurance companies no longer exclude treated patients with HIV. Consent for HIV testing is the same as it is for any other test.
We estimate that there are approximately 75 people with undiagnosed HIV infection in the Wellington region, and every year we see apparently low risk people diagnosed after several clinic or hospital attendances. Many have acquired HIV in NZ. Also be aware that syphilis is an increasingly common cause of non-itchy rashes, and is another disease that should not be forgotten. Testing an adult for HIV rather than Toxo and CMV is better testing behaviour!
Please see the recent article published in the New Zealand Doctor dated 17 August 2016
on a young NZ woman who has recently died from AIDS because no-one tested her for HIV despite being unwell for a long time but was seen as low risk.
For further information please contact:
Dr Tim Blackmore,
Clinical Microbiology, Infectious Diseases Physician