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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
Diabetes Mellitus Misdiagnosed as AIDS
Swai, Andrew B.M.,
October 21, 1989
Lancet (10/21/89) Vol. 2, No. 8669, P. 976

Andrew B.M. Swai and colleagues from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Bukoba write that they are concerned that in Africa, newly presenting diabetics and patients with other febrile illnesses may be misdiagnosed as having AIDS, with dire consequences for the lives of the patients. Diabetes may be confused with AIDS in Africa because the symptoms often include fever, fatigue, and weight loss, and because frequent visits to the toilet may be misinterpreted as diarrhea. Skin lesions are also common and could mislead observers. In tropical Africa, febrile illnesses were usually attributed to malaria before the AIDS diagnosis was fashionable, so now many patients with treatable illnesses may be condemned without proper assessment, write the researchers, who say public and medical education on AIDS should stress that the symptoms are not unique to AIDS, and that possible coexisting problems, such as diabetes and AIDS, should not be overlooked. A more positive attitude toward AIDS management might reduce the chance of diagnostic error, they write.