• In a retrospective study of 421 patients infected with human immunodeficiency virus, 15 (3.5%) had varicella. Twelve patients had a typical varicella. Complications were as follows: profuse eruption, 6; hemorrhagic eruption, 1; hepatitis, 5; and pulmonary involvement, 1; 1 patient developed an intravascular disseminated coagulation and died of varicella. Three patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, having a history of varicella, presented with an atypical form of varicella with a small number of disseminated cutaneous poxlike lesions; 1 of these patients experienced three relapses of atypical varicella. Assay of serum antibodies to varicella zoster virus showed that, while typical varicella was the primary varicella zoster virus infection, atypical varicella was a reactivation of varicella zoster virus infection. Acyclovir was given to 11 patients and vidarabine to 1 patient. The one patient who died and the one who suffered a relapse had received acyclovir. Thus, varicella in patients infected with human immunodeficiency virus may be complicated and even lethal. Atypical forms of varicella could be, as is the case with herpes zoster, a reactivation of endogenous varicella zoster virus.
(Arch Dermatol. 1990;126:1033-1036)