Autopsy findings in the acquired immune deficiency syndrome

JAMA. 1984 Sep 7;252(9):1152-9.


The medical records, premortem biopsy specimens, and autopsy materials from 36 patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) were reviewed. The majority of the patients were homosexual men. Widely metastatic Kaposi's sarcoma was seen in eight patients, while tumor was confined to the skin in an additional ten. Four patients had high-grade lymphomas. Thirty-five of the 36 patients had at least one opportunistic infection at some point in the course of their illness. Many patients had multiple infectious agents. The most consistent and striking autopsy finding was a severe depletion of lymphoid tissues. Death in the majority (83%) of the patients was attributable to opportunistic infections affecting most commonly the respiratory tract (64%) and meninges (11%). Three patients (9%) died with widely metastatic Kaposi's sarcoma and secondary hemorrhage.

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / pathology*
  • Adult
  • Cardiovascular System / pathology
  • Central Nervous System / pathology
  • Digestive System / pathology
  • Endocrine Glands / pathology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Liver / pathology
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lymphatic System / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin / pathology
  • Urogenital System / pathology