[+] HIV and other illnesses

Opportunistic Infections

Someone with HIV, especially if their CD4+ T-cell count is less than 200, is more at risk of getting Opportunistic Infections (OIs). These infections, which are caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites, do not happen in people with a normal immune system.

If someone with HIV has one of these infections—no matter what their CD4+ T-cell count is—they are diagnosed with AIDS. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has a list of over 20 of these infections:

  • Candidiasis of bronchi, trachea, esophagus or lungs
  • Coccidioidomycosis
  • Cryptococcosis
  • Cryptosporidiosis, chronic intestinal (greater than 1 month's duration)
  • Cytomegalovirus diseases (particularly CMV retinitis)
  • Encephalopathy, HIV-related
  • Herpes simplex: chronic ulcer(s) (greater than 1 month's duration); or bronchitis, pneumonitis, or esophagitis
  • Histoplasmosis
  • Invasive cervical cancer
  • Isosporiasis, chronic intestinal (greater than 1 month's duration)
  • Kaposi's sarcoma
  • Lymphoma, multiple forms
  • Mycobacterium avium complex
  • Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia
  • Pneumonia, recurrent
  • Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy
  • Salmonella septicemia, recurrent
  • Toxoplasmosis of brain
  • Tuberculosis
  • Wasting syndrome due to HIV

Source: US Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.aids.gov.


Hepatitis is a disease that causes serious liver problems. People with HIV have a higher risk of being infected with one of the viruses that can cause hepatitis. Also, people living with HIV and hepatitis may get worse even faster.

If you have HIV, talk to your healthcare provider about how often you should be tested for hepatitis, and how it can be treated if you have it.


It's very important to tell your healthcare provider if you have, or have had in the past, any of these conditions, including:

  • Tuberculosis
  • Dental problems
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease

Other conditions—even common ones—can be more serious in people with HIV. They can get worse faster than they normally would.

A lot of these illnesses can be treated, but some of the medications used to treat them can have an effect on HIV medication.


Drinking alcohol or taking drugs (legal medication like pain pills and illegal drugs like cocaine and heroin) can:

  • Affect your immune system and may make your HIV get worse, faster
  • Affect how well your HIV medication works