Emphysema is an incurable condition that occurs when the walls between the air sacs in the lung lose their ability to stretch and recoil, causing shortness of breath. Some HIV patients develop a condition called emphysema-like disease, which causes similar symptoms. The main difference between these two conditions is that abnormal masses in the lungs, called cystic lesions, cause symptoms of emphysema-like disease.
The exact cause of these lesions in the lungs remains unknown. However, researchers believe injection-drug use (IDU), recurrent infections, and the HIV itself may contribute to the development of lesions.
Emphysema-like disease can be successfully treated. Patients who use injection drugs should discontinue using drugs in order to prevent the development of new lesions. If an infection is causing the condition, the patient will receive antimicrobials that destroy the disease-causing microorganism and prevent the development of new lesions. If it is suspected that HIV is causing the condition, patients will receive aggressive HIV treatment called highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).
Steroids and supplemental oxygen may help alleviate symptoms. If symptoms are severe, patients may require surgery to remove damaged lung tissue. If the lung cannot be repaired, a lung transplant may be necessary.
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, AIDS, antimicrobials, BAL, bronchoalveolar lavage, bronchoscope, drug use, emphysema, HAART, highly active antiretroviral therapy, HIV, human immunodeficiency virus, IDU, immune, immune defense system, immune system, immunocompromised, immunodeficiency, injection drug use, lung biopsy, lung infection, lung transplant, lungs, open lung biopsy, pulmonary infection, supplemental oxygen, transbronchial biopsy, viral infection, virus, weakened immune system.