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Loss of feeling or alteration in sensation (such as pins and needles) can occur in HIV infection especially in the toes, feet and hands. Altered sensation with numbness can cause burning pain.


HIV and some secondary infections of the brain, spinal cord and nerve roots (e.g. CMV) can cause inflammation of the peripheral nerves (peripheral neuropathy). Drugs (such as ddC and cancer chemotherapy regimens), vitamin deficiencies and alcohol can also be responsible.

If numbness in the feet is accompanied by pins and needles or more severe pain when pressure is exerted, this may be peripheral neuropathy.

What to do

These symptoms should be discussed with a doctor and the underlying cause established. Amitriptylline in low doses or carbamazepine may be helpful for the burning pain. Practical measures such as taking good care of the feet, wearing good fitting shoes or seeing a chiropodist are also important. See A to Z of illnesses: Neuropathy for further information.

Community Consensus Statement on Access to HIV Treatment and its Use for Prevention

Together, we can make it happen

We can end HIV soon if people have equal access to HIV drugs as treatment and as PrEP, and have free choice over whether to take them.

Launched today, the Community Consensus Statement is a basic set of principles aimed at making sure that happens.

The Community Consensus Statement is a joint initiative of AVAC, EATG, MSMGF, GNP+, HIV i-Base, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ITPC and NAM/aidsmap

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.

NAM’s information is intended to support, rather than replace, consultation with a healthcare professional. Talk to your doctor or another member of your healthcare team for advice tailored to your situation.