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The scope and spectrum of challenges presented to the general surgeon by patients affected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) : a review.

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Background: Surgical disease related to HIV is scantily documented with a paucity of data detailing the manifestations of HIV in surgery especially in resource-poor, high prevalence settings such as in South Africa. This review provides an update on the topical issues surrounding HIV and surgery. Objectives: The objective of the study was to determine the incidence, pathogenesis, clinical presentation, aspects of diagnosis and management of: HIV- associated salivary gland disease in particular parotid gland enlargement; Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) and lower limb lymphoedema; AIDS- related abdominal malignancies due to KS and lymphoma; Acalculous cholecystitis and HIV- cholangiopathy and HIV- associated vasculopathy. Methods: A collective review of the literature was performed and data sourced from a search of relevant electronic medical databases for literature from the period 2000 to the present date. Studies under each section were selected based on inclusion and exclusion criteria. Content analysis was used to analyse data. Results: The HIV pandemic has resulted in an increased frequency of benign lymphoepithelial cysts making it the commonest cause of parotidomegaly in most surgical practices. KS should be considered in the differential diagnosis of a patient with chronic lymphoedema. Lymphoedema may be present without cutaneous lesions, making clinical diagnosis of KS difficult. The gastrointestinal tract is the commonest site of extra- cutaneous KS. Surgical management of the lymphoma patient is restricted nowadays to determining the diagnosis and in some cases to evaluate disease stage. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is an important part of the management of biliary tract conditions in addition to relevant surgical procedures. HIV- vasculopathy represents a distinct clinico- pathological entity characterized by a vasculitis with probable immune- mediated or direct HIV- related injury to the vessel wall. Conclusion: The rising incidence of HIV in South Africa and other developing countries has been associated with new and unusual disease manifestations requiring surgical management for diagnostic, palliative or curative intent. It is crucial that surgeons remain abreast of new developments related to the challenging spectrum of HIV and its protean manifestations.


Thesis (M.Med.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2012.


HIV infections., Kaposi's sarcoma., AIDS (Disease)--South Africa., Theses--General surgery.