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Are Chronic Back Stiffness and Oral Candidiasis Associated With HIV?



Dear Doctor,

I would like to know if chronic stiffness inside my back is part of HIV symptoms? I could feel it sometimes. It goes in my back, neck, or both of my arms. The chronic stiffness in my back comes along with oral candidiasis in my (tongue and cheek) mouth as well. I`m presently 62 days after the risky sexual exposure. I already underwent blood screening. The result will be next week. Hope for your kind reply. Thank you.


Complaints of muscular and skeletal symptoms, like myalgias (Muscle pain) and arthralgias (Pain and stiffness in joints) are very commonly associated with several viral infections including HIV. Because these symptoms are so common they are not specific at all for HIV infection, and can be associated with a myriad of other problems, including anxiety/stress. Oral candidiasis is somewhat more worrisome. It may be observed during the early stages of HIV when the T cells are acutely diminished, or late in the disease as the immune system becomes progressively dysfunctional. There are other conditions that can produce oral Candidiasis including diabetes, use of steroids or even use of antibiotics. In summary, the blood test you already took, with a repeat test in four to six months along with a CD4 count will give you a more precise answer. The symptoms that you describe, while they may well be associated with acute HIV infection, are not specific of anything.

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Response by:

Francisco   Gomez, MD Francisco Gomez, MD
Assistant Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati