Background: Skin lesions are common in advanced HIV infection and are sometimes caused by serious diseases like systemic mycoses (SM). AIDS-related SM endemic to Western Cape, South Africa, include emergomycosis (formerly disseminated emmonsiosis), histoplasmosis, and sporotrichosis. We previously reported that 95% of patients with AIDS-related emergomycosis had skin lesions, although these were frequently overlooked or misdiagnosed clinically. Prospective studies are needed to characterize skin lesions of SM in South Africa and to help distinguish these from common HIV-related dermatoses.
Methods: We prospectively enrolled HIV-infected adult patients living in Western Cape, South Africa, with CD4 counts ≤100 cells/μL and widespread skin lesions present ≤6 months that were deemed clinically compatible with SM. We obtained skin biopsies for histopathology and fungal culture and collected epidemiological and clinical data.
Results: Of 34 patients enrolled and in whom a diagnosis could be made, 25 had proven SM: 14 had emergomycosis, and 3 each had histoplasmosis and sporotrichosis; for 5 additional patients, the fungal species could not be identified. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) had been initiated in the preceding 4 weeks for 11/25 (44%) patients with SM (vs no patients without SM). Plaques and scale crust occurred more frequently in patients with SM (96% vs 25%, P = .0002; and 67% vs 13%, P = .01, respectively).
Conclusions: Recent ART initiation and presence of plaques or scale crust should make clinicians consider SM in patients with advanced HIV infection in this geographic area. Clinical overlap between SM and other dermatoses makes early skin biopsy critical for timely diagnosis and treatment.
- Journal Article