HIV-Related Lung Disorders Treated by Top Lung Doctors

The Lung Center at Mercy

Doctors of The Lung Center at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, provide clinical expertise in treating a wide-range of respiratory conditions, including HIV-related lung disorders. The Center works in tandem with a multidisciplinary team of physicians to create an optimal treatment plan for each patient.

About the Condition

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus that produces AIDS, also known as Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. HIV affects certain cells in the body, especially the T-cell, a white blood cell that protects the immune system from disease. HIV weakens the immune system and often affects the lungs, making the lungs susceptible to pulmonary diseases and opportunistic infections. Opportunistic infections take advantage of a weakened immune system. 

The most common HIV-related lung disorders may include:

  • Tuberculosis
  • Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia (formerly known as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia)
  • Mcobacterium avium complex (MAC or MAI)
  • Bacterial pneumonia
  • Viral pneumonia
  • Fungal infections (Coccidiodomycosis, Crytococcosis, Histoplasmosis and Aspergillosis)
  • Pulmonary hypertension (PAH)
  • Kaposi sarcoma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • COPD
  • Bronchial carcinomas
NEXT: Symptoms & Diagnostic Process ›
Symptoms & Diagnostic Process

One of the greatest challenges in treating HIV-related lung disorders is early diagnosis. Since the immune system is compromised, it is important to contact the doctor and report symptoms early and often. Because of the complexity of HIV-related lung disorders, it is sometimes necessary to involve a lung specialist, also known as a pulmonologist, in treatment. HIV-related lung disorder symptoms may include:

  • Chest pain
  • Dry cough or cough with productive mucus
  • Mucus that is clear or that contains blood
  • Difficulty breathing

Other related symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Night sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headaches and weight loss

Diagnosing HIV-related lung disorders requires a full medical history and a physical exam. The physical exam will focus on the chest and include the following tests:

  • Chest X-ray
  • Blood work
  • Arterial blood gases
  • Sample of sputum or mucus
  • Bronchoscopy
  • CD4 count
NEXT: Treatment Options ›
Treatment Options

For most HIV-related lung disorders, the doctor will treat with antibiotic medications. For non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or Kaposi’s sarcoma, chemotherapy may be needed. The most effective treatment to help prevent HIV-related lung disorders and to prevent opportunistic infections is HAART (Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy). HAART can help reduce the amount of HIV in the body as well as help restore the immune system. 

In addition to HAART, it is important to eat nutritious meals, get plenty of rest and discontinue smoking and the use of illegal substances.