From the onset of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) pandemic in the 1980s to the recent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, multiple viral pandemics have occurred and all have been associated with hematologic complications of varying severity.


To review the hematologic complications associated with the HIV and other viral pandemics, the current theories regarding their causation, and the incidence and clinical impact of these complications on infected patients.

Data Sources.—

Peer-reviewed medical literature and the author's personal experience.


The HIV and other viral pandemics have been associated with a variety of hematologic complications that often cause significant morbidity and mortality in affected patients. HIV infection is associated with multiple hematologic disorders, many of which have a lower incidence in the era of highly active antiretroviral therapy but still represent a major clinical problem for HIV-infected patients. Our understanding of the pathogenesis of HIV-related hematologic complications, including HIV-associated lymphoproliferative disorders, has evolved in recent years. Other viral pandemics, including H1N1 influenza, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus, and COVID-19, have also been associated with hematologic complications of varying severity. Our emerging understanding of the pathogenesis of the hematologic complications of HIV, COVID-19, and other viral pandemics may help in prevention, correct diagnosis, and treatment of these complications in current and future pandemics.

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Author notes

The author has no relevant financial interest in the products or companies described in this article.

Presented in part at the Seventh Princeton Integrated Pathology Symposium; May 16, 2020; virtual.