Identify and define the oral conditions that may be experienced by an individual with HIV.



  • Aphthous Stomatitis- An inflammation of the mouth characterized by small white blisters. May cause difficulty eating.
  • Candidiasis- One of the earliest manifestations of HIV infection. This is an infection with a fungus of the genus Candida. It can occur in both an erythematous (red) form and a more common pseudomembranous (white) form. The erythematous form is often difficult to detect and may go undiagnosed. The pseudomembranous form occurs as a white lesion.
  • Gingivitis (HIV)- A form of gingivitis (inflamed gums) that can be manifested by necrotic ulcerative lesions and/or erythema (inflammatory redness).
  • Periodontitis (HIV)- Characterized by alveolar bone necrosis (death of bone comprising tooth sockets) as well as rapid and progressive gingival (gum) recession and bone resorption (loss). Further breakdown of the periodontal structures is a possibility, with diffuse gangrenous stomatitis (death of tissue in the mouth due to diminished blood supply).
  • Xerostomia- Dry mouth as a result of a decrease in salivary flow. This often occurs in combination with candidiasis.
  • Hairy leukoplakia- One of the earliest manifestations of HIV infection. It is a chronic condition that appears as a corrugated (ridged) white lesion that is almost always on the lateral or outside borders of the tongue unilaterally or bilaterally. Hairy leukoplakia is highly predictive of the development of AIDS within three years.
  • Kaposi’s sarcoma- Appears as a vascular like blue-red lesion generally on the palate (roof of the mouth).
  • Lymphoma- A malignancy of the lymphoid system, characterized into two major types: Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s. The non-Hodgkin’s type has a poorer prognosis.
  • Herpes simplex- Lesions from the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1 and sometimes HSV-2) are commonly observed in HIV-infected individuals.
  • Herpes zoster- An acute inflammatory disease of the cerebral ganglia (groups of nerve cells) and ganglia of the posterior nerve roots and peripheral nerves in a segmented distribution, caused by the virus chickenpox. It is characterized by groups of small vesicles on inflammatory bases occurring in the cutaneous areas supplied by the affected segments and associated with neuralgic pain.
  • Herpes varicella- Herpes zoster with secondary varicelliform eruptions (resembling the blisters of chickenpox).

For additional information see reading assignments: “Oral Conditions Precipitated by HIV” and “Special Considerations for AIDS and Oral Health”


Sammarco. “AIDS and Oral Health.” In P. Deutsch and H. Sawyer (Ed.) A Guide to Rehabilitation. White Plains, NY: AHAB Press

Sammarco. “Oral Conditions Precipitated by HIV.” In P. Deutsch and H. Sawyer (Ed.) A Guide to Rehabilitation. White Plains, NY: AHAB Press

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