How Does the HIV Infection Effect the Appearance of the Infected Individual?


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As HIV progresses through a person's body, fat distribution can significantly change the person's appearance, explains AIDS.gov. Called lipodystrophy, an infected individual is apt to gain weight in the abdomen, neck, face and breasts with small deposits of fat elsewhere on the body. The patient may lose fat in the arms, face, legs and buttocks. The loss of fat may cause sunken cheeks and prominent veins in the legs and arms, notes MedicineNet.

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Dermatological diseases frequently appear in HIV patients, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs reports. Many individuals develop psoriasis on over half of their bodies. Scaly plaques may appear on the face and scalp and behind the ears as a result of seborrheic dermatitis. Patients with HIV may experience toenail infections, beginning with discoloration in the corner of a nail and spreading throughout the nail. Eventually the nail plate can fall off, becoming irregular and heaped.

In response to immune function deficiencies, skin lesions may form, explains Healthline. HIV increases susceptibility to Kaposi’s sarcoma, a form of skin cancer that involves dark brown, red or purple skin lesions that form along blood vessels and lymph nodes. HIV-related herpes appears as red blisters on the mouth, genitals and eyes. A weakened immune system can lead to oral leukoplakia, which appears as white tongue lesions that are often hairy.

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