Objectives: This study considers 489 autopsies of HIV/AIDS patients who died from acute respiratory failure and describes the demographic data, etiology, and histological pulmonary findings of HIV associated diseases, comparing results before and after introduction of antiretroviral therapy. Methods: The following data were obtained: age, sex, and major associated diseases (found at the autopsy). Pulmonary histopathology was categorized as: diffuse alveolar damage; pulmonary edema; alveolar hemorrhage; and acute interstitial pneumonia. Odds ratio of the HIV/AIDS-associated diseases developing a specific histopathological pattern was determined by logistic regression. Results: A total of 355 men were studied. The mean age was 37 years old. Bronchopneumonia presented in 43% and Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia in 38% of patients. Pulmonary histopathology showed diffuse alveolar damage in 31% and acute interstitial pneumonia in 23%. The multivariate analysis showed a significant and positive association between diffuse alveolar damage with disseminated tuberculosis, cirrhosis and sepsis; and acute interstitial pneumonia with Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia and cytomegalovirosis. After the introduction of antiretroviral therapy we observed an increase in the prevalence of bacterial bronchopneumonia, sepsis and cirrhosis; and a decrease in Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia and cytomegalovirosis. Conclusions: Coherent to literature, this study showed a decrease of respiratory failure mortality associated with some opportunistic infections after antiretroviral therapy introduction. But an increased prevalence of sepsis, bronchopneumonia and sepsis was observed too. The most prevalent pulmonary histopathological pattern was diffuse alveolar damage, which suggested a positive association with disseminated tuberculosis, sepsis and cirrhosis.
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