Life-threatening complications of HIV infection

J Intensive Care Med. 2007 Mar-Apr;22(2):73-81. doi: 10.1177/0885066606297964.


Few modern diseases have experienced as rapid and dramatic change in prognosis and treatment as HIV infection. The introduction of active antiretroviral therapy (ART) and effective prophylaxis of opportunistic infections ushered in a new era in the treatment of HIV infection and changed dramatically the natural history of this disease. The rates of admission to the intensive care unit (ICU) and intensive care mortality in patients with HIV infection have shifted repeatedly during the AIDS epidemic, influenced by attitudes of patients and providers toward utility of care. In the ART era, patients with HIV infection admitted to the ICU fall into 3 general categories: those with AIDS-related opportunistic infections, those who are experiencing complications related to ART, and those with medical problems unrelated to HIV infection. In this article, the authors provide a review of the most common life-threatening complications in patients with HIV infection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / diagnosis
  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / drug therapy
  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / physiopathology*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active / adverse effects
  • HIV Infections* / complications
  • HIV Infections* / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections* / mortality
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units / statistics & numerical data
  • Pneumonia, Pneumocystis / diagnosis
  • Pneumonia, Pneumocystis / drug therapy
  • Pneumonia, Pneumocystis / physiopathology
  • Prognosis
  • Toxoplasmosis, Cerebral / diagnosis
  • Toxoplasmosis, Cerebral / drug therapy
  • Toxoplasmosis, Cerebral / physiopathology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents