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The range of clinical presentations of HIV-related disease in Africa has not been adequately described, despite the fact that many hospitals have to rely heavily on clinical diagnosis. Six hundred adult medical patients seen in the Casualty Department of the main Government hospital in Nairobi were enrolled in a study of the presentation and outcome of HIV-related disease: 506 of these patients were admitted, of whom 19 per cent (95) were HIV seropositive. The remaining 94 were dealt with as outpatients: 11 percent (10) of these were seropositive. A history of prior treatment for sexually transmitted disease and, if male, being uncircumcised, were associated with being seropositive. Three presentations were strongly associated with HIV infection: acute fever with no focus except the gastrointestinal tract (enteric fever-like illness), acute cough with fever (community-acquired pneumonia) and chronic diarrhoea with wasting. The WHO clinical case definition (CCD) for AIDS missed a substantial amount of HIV-related morbidity (sensitivity 39 per cent) and misidentified many seronegative patients (positive predictive value 59 per cent). In comparison with the Centers for Disease Control surveillance definition for AIDS, the CCD was specific (91 per cent) and sensitive (79 per cent) but only had a positive predictive values of 30 per cent: the CCD may therefore be a poor surveillance tool for AIDS. Seropositive patients were much more likely to die than were seronegative patients (39 per cent vs. 15 per cent mortality). Enteric fever-like illness was the presentation which most commonly proved fatal. A wider spectrum of disease is associated with underlying HIV immunosuppression than has previously been described in Africa.


Journal article


Q J Med

Publication Date





25 - 32


Africa, Africa South Of The Sahara, Biology, Demographic Factors, Developing Countries, Diseases, Eastern Africa, English Speaking Africa, Examinations And Diagnoses, Hiv Infections, Incidence, Kenya, Laboratory Examinations And Diagnoses, Measurement, Mortality, Population, Population Dynamics, Research Methodology, Risk Factors, Signs And Symptoms, Treatment, Viral Diseases, Acute Disease, Adolescent, Adult, Age Factors, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Female, HIV Seropositivity, Humans, Kenya, Male, Middle Aged, Risk Factors, Sex Factors