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Bullous systemic lupus erythematosus in a patient with human immunodeficiency virus infection: a paradox of autoimmunity and immunodeficiency


Bullous lupus erythematosus is a rare variant of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and is characterized by autoantibodies to type VII collagen.  Co-existence of SLE and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is extremely rare; the development of bullous lupus in the setting of HIV has been, to our knowledge, reported in the literature only once.

We describe a 26-year-old man with an 8-year history of HIV infection who developed bullous SLE.  The patient presented with widespread, tense bullae as well as oral ulcerations.  Clinical, laboratory, histological, and cutaneous immunofluorescence findings confirmed the diagnosis of bullous SLE.

Given the immunological consequence of HIV infection, the co-occurrence of these two diseases would, theoretically, be unusual. Theories pertaining to the interplay of immunologic mechanisms of the seemingly paradoxical occurrence of autoimmunity in the setting of HIV infection are discussed.

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