Last reviewed: November 2017
Last updated: November  2017



History and exam

Key diagnostic factors

  • presence of risk factors
  • fevers and night sweats
  • weight loss
  • skin rashes and post-inflammatory scars
  • oral ulcers, angular cheilitis, oral thrush, or oral hairy leukoplakia (OHL)
  • diarrhoea
  • wasting syndrome
  • headaches
  • changes in mental status or neuropsychiatric function
  • recent hospital admissions
  • TB
  • medical comorbidities
  • sexual activity
  • generalised lymphadenopathy
  • Kaposi's sarcoma (KS)
  • periodontal disease
  • genital STDs
  • chronic vaginal candidiasis
  • retinal lesions on fundoscopy
  • SOB on exertion, cyanosis on exertion, dry cough, silent chest on auscultation
  • shingles

Other diagnostic factors

  • current medicines
  • current and prior pregnancies (women)
  • malnutrition
  • crowded or impoverished home environment
  • young age
  • willingness to disclose status to partner(s)
  • available support structure
  • unemployment
  • smoking
  • current and prior use of alcohol
  • current and prior use of other substances
  • peripheral neuropathy (PN)
  • recurrent herpes simplex
  • vaccination hx
  • known drug allergies
  • hepatomegaly or splenomegaly
  • meningeal (bacterial or viral meningitis)

Risk factors

  • needle sharing with intravenous drug use
  • unprotected receptive anal intercourse
  • unprotected receptive penile-vaginal sexual intercourse
  • percutaneous needle stick injury
  • high maternal viral load (mother to child transmission)

Diagnostic investigations

1st investigations to order

  • serum HIV ELISA
  • serum HIV rapid test
  • HIV non-invasive tests
  • serum Western blot
  • serum p24 antigen
  • serum HIV DNA PCR
  • CD4 cell count
  • serum viral load (HIV RNA)
  • pregnancy test
  • serum hepatitis B serology
  • serum hepatitis C serology
  • serum VDRL
  • Treponema pallidum haemagglutination test
  • RPR
  • tuberculin skin test
  • FBC with differential
  • serum electrolytes
  • serum creatinine
  • urinalysis
Full details

Investigations to consider

  • CXR
  • LFTs
  • lipid profile
  • plasma glucose
  • hepatitis A serology (IgG)
  • toxoplasma serology (IgG)
  • gonorrhoea and chlamydia testing
  • HLA-B*5701 testing
Full details

Treatment algorithm


Authors VIEW ALL

Assistant Professor of Medicine

Infectious Diseases

Northwestern Memorial Hospital




CJA has been a member of an advisory board on HIV, aging and telomeres for Viiv, and has done consultant work as a member of DSMBs for ABIVAX, Atea, and Biotron. He has also received a grant for Investigator Sponsored Research from Gilead.

Dr Chad J Achenbach would like to gratefully acknowledge Dr Richard Rothman, Dr Michael Ehmann, Dr Linda-Gail Bekker, Dr Catherine Orrell, and Dr Lisa Capaldini, the previous contributors to this monograph. ME, LGB, and CO declare that they have no competing interests. RR attended a symposium/conference hosted by a funding agency, Gilead HIV FOCUS program, from which he receives research funds. RR pays staff for an implementation/research program grant from Gilead HIV FOCUS for development of HIV testing programs in Emergency Departments. LC is on the speakers' bureau for the following pharmaceutical companies: GlaxoSmithKline, BMS, Merck, Gilead, Roche, Pfizer, Solvay, Lilly, Serrano, and Tibotec.

Peer reviewers VIEW ALL

Clinical Assistant Professor

University of British Columbia




MH is a member of an advisory board and/or speakers' bureau for Gilead Sciences Canada Inc, Merck Canada Inc, and ViiV Healthcare.

Assistant Professor of Medicine

Harvard Medical School

Director of Research

Global Health Delivery Project

Harvard School of Public Health




WR declares that he has no competing interests.

Infectious Disease Physician

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

Hospital for Tropical Diseases

Ho Chi Minh City



JD declares that he has no competing interests.

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