The rheumatologic manifestations of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection have been recognized since the early days of the epidemic and are characteristic of this disorder. It has been noted that the clinical spectrum of rheumatic disorders in patients with HIV infection has changed since the advent of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in the mid-1990s. Furthermore, HIV infection may become clinically apparent in rheumatic disease patients during or after they are treated with immunosuppressive therapy. The emergence of manifestations of HIV infection may develop during or after such therapy and may be confused with clinical manifestations known to be associated with the underlying rheumatic disease. In patients with established rheumatologic disease, it is difficult to consider the diagnosis of HIV especially in individuals with few or no known risk factors. In this review, we report 2 cases with established systemic rheumatic disease who developed complications originally thought to be secondary to the underlying inflammatory disorder or antirheumatic therapy. Ultimately, both patients were found to be HIV positive. Recognition of the overlapping signs or symptoms of systemic rheumatic diseases, antirheumatic therapy, and HIV infection can be lifesaving. We propose that all patients with systemic rheumatic diseases, especially those receiving or being considered for disease-modifying antirheumatic therapy, be evaluated systematically for the presence of HIV, taking into consideration the recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for routine opt-out HIV screening in all healthcare settings for those aged 13 to 64 years.
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