Purpose: The prevalence and characteristics of the rheumatic and extra-rheumatic manifestations of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection were determined in a prospective manner. Patients and methods: One hundred one patients with HIV infection were consecutively interviewed and examined. The prevalence of autoantibodies and their association with rheumatologic symptoms were also determined. Results: The musculoskeletal system was involved in 72 patients. Thirty-five patients had arthralgias, 10 had Reiter's syndrome, two had psoriatic arthritis, two had myositis, and one had vasculitis. Also found were two previously unreported syndromes. The first, occurring in 10 patients, consisted of severe intermittent pain involving less than four joints, without evidence of synovitis, of short duration (two to 24 hours), and requiring therapy (ranging from nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to narcotics). The second, occurring in 12 patients, consisted of arthritis (oligoarticular in six patients, monoarticular in three patients, and polyarticular in three patients) involving the lower extremities and lasting from one week to six months. The synovial fluid of five patients (three with arthritis, one with Reiter's syndrome, and one with psoriatic arthritis) was sterile and inflammatory. Conclusion: Musculoskeletal complications are common in advanced stages of HIV infection. Persons in a high-risk group for HIV infection who manifest oligoarthritis with or without any other extra-articular manifestation suggestive of Reiter's syndrome or other form of spondyloarthropathy should be tested for HIV.

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