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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 10, Issue 5, Pages 307-309
Brief Communication

Pas de Deux: Active Ulcerative Colitis in an HIV-Positive Patient

David C Pearson, Lloyd R Sutherland, and Stephan Urbanski

Departments of Medicine and Pathology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Received 18 April 1995; Revised 22 April 1996

Copyright © 1996 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A 40-year-old male who was found to be human immunodeficiency virus-positive when he presented with bloody diarrhea in 1986 is described. Clinical, laboratory, endoscopic and histological findings were all compatible with ulcerative colitis, and stool cultures were repeatedly negative for pathogens. Colitis was initially mild and controlled with intermittent oral aminosalicylic acid products. Since 1993 he has had more significant symptoms requiring prednisone up to 40 mg/day. Repeat colonoscopy disclosed pancolitis and biopsies did not show evidence of cytomegalovirus infection. He has not had an acquired immune deficiency syndrome-defining illness. CD4 cells fell below normal as his colitis worsened. This case raises questions about immune regulation in ulcerative colitis because the patient has active disease in addition to a reduced number of T helper cells. It also presents a difficult management problem because the patient has a limited life expectancy and is reluctant to accept colectomy, and further immunosuppressive therapy may be dangerous.