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Case report
Missed opportunity to diagnose HIV with Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia as its sequela
  1. Louise Dunphy,
  2. Neil Patel,
  3. Bret Palmer and
  4. Edward McKeown
  1. Department of Acute Medicine, The Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, United Kingdom
  1. Correspondence to Dr Louise Dunphy; Louise.Dunphy{at}


Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) is an opportunistic infection of the lung occurring primarily in patients with HIV infection with a CD4 cell count <200 mm3, solid organ transplant recipients and those taking immunosuppressive therapy. The 1980s heralded the HIV pandemic, turning PCP into a major medical and public health problem worldwide. Manifestations of unusual infections such as pneumocystis and Kaposi’s sarcoma, were, after all, the first signs of the emerging pandemic to be recognised and may indeed, be the presenting feature of a previously undiagnosed HIV infection. With the advent of pneumocystis chemoprophylaxis and the initiation of highly active antiretroviral therapy, there has been a decreased incidence in developed countries, but it remains high in developing countries. Unfortunately, late presentation of HIV remains a problem resulting in significant morbidity and mortality. The authors report the case of a new diagnosis of HIV infection in a 45-year-old woman, presenting with a dry cough, dyspnoea, unintentional weight loss and PCP. Two weeks after commencing highly active antiretroviral therapy, she was diagnosed with immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome. Research shows that stigma and discrimination in the healthcare setting contributes to keeping individuals from accessing HIV prevention, care and treatment services and adopting key preventive behaviours. The barriers to HIV testing and stigma eradication in primary care will be explored as well as missed opportunities to diagnosis HIV in primary care in individuals presenting with signs and symptoms of immunosuppression, in this case shingles.

  • HIV / AIDS
  • respiratory system

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  • Contributors LD: wrote the case report. NP: literature search. EM: edited the paper. BP: HIV and infectious diseases input.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.