OBJECTIVE - To document the clinical and immunogenetic features of arthritis associated with heterosexually acquired human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.
METHODS - All patients were assessed by a rheumatologist and standard laboratory tests were performed.
RESULTS - There were 3 common clinical presentations. (1) Oligo/polyarticular arthritis (22 men, 4 women). HIV infection had not previously been diagnosed in 24 of these patients but persistent generalized lymphadenopathy (85%) and weight loss (42%) were present. Joints commonly involved were ankles (65%) and knees (54%), often with associated enthesitis (31%) and dactylitis (23%). Followup data in 18 patients showed that arthritis resolved completely in 9 patients (one subsequently recurred), improved by >50% in 5 patients, was unremitting in 3 patients, and recurred frequently in one patient. None of 7 patients tested were HLA-B27 or B7 positive. (2) Reiter's syndrome (RS) (21 men, 3 women; incomplete RS 18 patients,complete RS 6 patients). Lymphadenopathy was present in 19 patients (79%) and 4 patients were previously known to have HIV infection. Involvement of knees (80%) and ankles (58%) was common, as were enthesitis (29%) and dactylitis (13%). Followup data in 21 patients showed that 14 resolved (5 with recurrences), 2 improved by >50%, and 5 had continued arthritis. HLA-B27 was not found in 13 patients tested but a cross reacting antigen was found in 6 patients. (3) Symmetrical polyarthritis (4 men, 4 women). Symmetrical arthritis of the wrists (8 patients) and peripheral interphalangeal (PIP) and metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joints (7), as well as lymphadenopathy (5), nodules (4), rheumatoid factor (3), and erosive radiographic changes (one patient) were seen. (4) Miscellaneous. Other types of arthritis included 3 patients with psoriasis and arthritis and one patient each with Behcet's disease, Salmonella septic arthritis, and secondary syphilis.
CONCLUSION - Arthritis associated with HIV in this population is most commonly characterized by oligoarticular, asymmetrical, large joint arthritis, with or without features of Reiter's syndrome, and is not associated with HLA-B27.