Scientific article
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Unusual primary HIV infection with colonic ulcer complicated by hemorrhagic shock: a case report

Published inJournal of medical case reports, vol. 4, 279
Publication date2010

INTRODUCTION: Timely diagnosis of primary HIV infection is important to prevent further transmission of HIV. Primary HIV infection may take place without symptoms or may be associated with fever, pharyngitis or headache. Sometimes, the clinical presentation includes aseptic meningitis or cutaneous lesions. Intestinal ulceration due to opportunistic pathogens (cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, Toxoplasma gondii) has been described in patients with AIDS. However, although invasion of intestinal lymphoid tissue is a prominent feature of human and simian lentivirus infections, colonic ulceration has not been reported in acute HIV infection. CASE DESCRIPTION: A 42-year-old Caucasian man was treated with amoxicillin-clavulanate for pharyngitis. He did not improve, and a rash developed. History taking revealed a negative HIV antibody test five months previously and unprotected sex with a male partner the month before admission. Repeated tests revealed primary HIV infection with an exceptionally high HIV-1 RNA plasma concentration (3.6 x 107 copies/mL) and a low CD4 count (101 cells/mm3, seven percent of total lymphocytes). While being investigated, the patient had a life-threatening hematochezia. After angiographic occlusion of a branch of the ileocaecal artery and initiation of antiretroviral therapy, the patient became rapidly asymptomatic and could be discharged. Colonoscopy revealed a bleeding colonic ulcer. We were unable to identify an etiology other than HIV for this ulcer. CONCLUSION: This case adds to the known protean manifestation of primary HIV infection. The lack of an alternative etiology, despite extensive investigations, suggests that this ulcer was directly caused by primary HIV infection. This conclusion is supported by the well-described extensive loss of intestinal mucosal CD4+ T cells associated with primary HIV infection, the extremely high HIV viral load observed in our patient, and the rapid improvement of the ulcer after initiation of highly active antiretroviral therapy. This case also adds to the debate on treatment for primary HIV infection, especially in the context of severe symptoms and an extremely high viral load.

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EMONET, Stéphane et al. Unusual primary HIV infection with colonic ulcer complicated by hemorrhagic shock: a case report. In: Journal of medical case reports, 2010, vol. 4, p. 279. doi: 10.1186/1752-1947-4-279
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ISSN of the journal1752-1947

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