BACKGROUND: The coexistence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is being increasingly reported and, because of the immunological disturbances demonstrated in HIV-infected patients, diagnostic and therapeutic difficulties may arise when the 2 conditions coexist. Antiphospholipid antibodies are demonstrable in patients with both conditions, but clinical manifestations of the antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) in HIV-infected patients, although reported, are uncommon. METHODS: We describe a patient with HIV infection and SLE who manifested 4 episodes of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) complicated by pulmonary embolism. Enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay was used to test for the presence of antiphospholipid antibodies, including anticardiolipin antibodies, anti- beta 2-glycoprotein 1 antibodies, and antiprothrombin antibodies (anti-PT). Additionally, we performed a computer-assisted search of the literature (via the Medline database) to identify all reported cases of HIV infection plus SLE. RESULTS: We document the case of 35-year-old African woman with HIV infection and SLE who developed recurrent episodes of DVT and pulmonary embolism in the presence of anti-PT and discuss in depth the pathogenic role of these antibodies and the clinical challenges posed to clinicians by the coexistence of HIV and SLE in the same patient. CONCLUSIONS: Immunological reconstitution in HIV-infected patients contributes to the appearance of multiple autoimmune conditions, including SLE and APS. The recognition of the coexistence of these autoimmune disorders in HIV-infected patients has important implications in the treatment of and prognosis for these individuals.
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