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Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV, also HI virus) is an enveloped RNA virus that belongs to the Retroviridae family and the Lentivirus genus. HIV is classified into HIV-1 and HIV-2, each of which is divided into different subtypes.

HIV causes the HIV infection, which in the late stages leads to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). As the immune system is gradually destroyed, those affected are at high risk for life-threatening opportunistic infections and tumors.

The reservoir for HIV-1 and HIV-2 is humans. Chimpanzees can also be infected with HIV-1. However, primates either do not become ill, or only after very long incubation periods.

Relevance of pathogen in transmission in endoscopy

  • Gastroenterology: Low

  • Pulmonology: Low

  • Ear, nose, and throat: Low

  • Urology: Low

Relevance for endoscope surveillance

  • Low or moderate concern organism

No cases of endoscopy-related HIV transmission have been documented in the literature so far.

Transmission route

HIV is transmitted through the blood and other infectious bodily fluids, mainly sperm, vaginal secretions, and the film of fluid on the intestinal mucosa.

Most commonly, the pathogen is transmitted through unprotected sexual contact. Another route of transmission is sharing contaminated syringes during intravenous drug use. In addition, the virus can also be transmitted during blood transfusions and from an HIV-infected mother to her baby during pregnancy or birth.

Further readings

  1. HIV/AIDS, World Health Organization, https://www.who.int/health-topics/hiv-aids#tab=tab_1 (accessed on 06.22.2021).

  2. HIV Basics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/index.html (accessed on 06.22.2021).

  3. HIV infection/AIDS, RKI-Ratgeber, https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/Infekt/EpidBull/Merkblaetter/Ratgeber_HIV_AIDS.html;jsessionid=F79B0F69EE6244DB8C392F69776ABE76.internet122#doc2374480bodyText2 (accessed on 06.22.2021).

  4. Kovaleva J. Transmission of Infection by Flexible Gastrointestinal Endoscopy and Bronchoscopy, Clin Microbiol Rev. 2013 Apr;26(2):231– 54.