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Does hiv make your pee dark?

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system and can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) if not treated. HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids like blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk. It cannot be transmitted through casual contact or urine. While dark urine is not a direct symptom of HIV, some HIV-related conditions or medications can cause urine discoloration. Let’s take a closer look at the effects of HIV on urine.

Direct Effects of HIV on Urine

HIV does not directly affect the color or composition of urine. The virus attacks CD4 cells, a type of white blood cell that helps coordinate the immune response. As HIV destroys more CD4 cells, the immune system becomes weaker and less able to fight off infections and cancers. However, the virus does not infect the kidneys, urinary tract, or urine itself.

A healthy person’s urine is typically clear or pale yellow. Dark yellow, orange, or brown urine may indicate dehydration, liver disease, tumors, kidney stones, urinary tract infections (UTIs), or blood in the urine. None of these conditions are directly linked to HIV status.

HIV and Kidney Disease

While HIV does not directly damage the kidneys, some HIV medications can increase the risk of kidney injury over time. This is especially true for Tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF), an antiretroviral drug used in some HIV treatment regimens.

TDF can cause proximal renal tubular dysfunction, leading to impaired reabsorption of nutrients, glucose, and salts from the urine. This dysfunction may result in increased urination, electrolyte abnormalities, and acute or chronic kidney disease. These effects can make the urine appear abnormally light or dark.

However, newer HIV medications like Tenofovir alafenamide (TAF) have a lower risk of kidney damage. With proper monitoring and treatment adjustments, serious kidney issues are uncommon today in HIV patients.

HIV-Related Medications and Urine Color

Some medications used to treat HIV-related conditions can change the color of urine:

  • Ribavirin for hepatitis C can turn urine orange or red-orange.
  • Pyrimethamine for toxoplasmosis may cause urine discoloration.
  • Intravenous pentamidine for pneumocystis pneumonia can turn urine blue or greenish-brown.
  • Sulfadiazine used to treat toxoplasmosis can cause crystalluria, making urine appear cloudy.

These effects are temporary and will resolve after finishing the medication course. Doctors monitor for signs of kidney injury or other problems.

Effects of HIV Co-Infections

People with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to opportunistic infections. Some co-infections related to AIDS can indirectly alter urine color or appearance:

  • Hematuria: Blood in the urine can make it pink, red, or brownish.
  • Pyuria: Pus in the urine causes cloudiness.
  • Bilirubinuria: Excess bilirubin turns urine dark yellow or amber.
  • Crystalluria: Crystals in the urine make it turbid.

Kidney stones, UTIs, sexually transmitted infections, catheter use, and bladder or kidney infections are potential causes of these urine abnormalities in HIV patients.

When to Seek Care for Urine Changes

Although HIV itself does not directly change urine color, any sudden or persistent change in urination warrants medical attention. See a doctor if you notice:

  • Dark yellow, brown, red, or orange urine
  • Cloudiness or sediment
  • Strong or foul odor
  • Foaminess
  • Change in frequency or urgency
  • Burning or pain during urination
  • Inability to urinate
  • Blood or pus in the urine

These could indicate a UTI, kidney problem, sexually transmitted infection, or other condition requiring treatment. Prompt diagnosis and care can prevent serious complications.

People with HIV should stay well hydrated to dilute the urine and reduce odor. Cranberry juice may help prevent cystitis. Discuss any recurrent urinary problems with your HIV specialist.

Diagnostic Tests for Urine Abnormalities

Doctors use laboratory tests to identify the underlying cause of urine discoloration or odor:


A routine urinalysis checks physical, chemical, and microscopic properties of a urine sample. Findings may include:

  • Color and clarity
  • Glucose, protein, ketones
  • Blood, bilirubin, urobilinogen
  • Nitrites, leukocyte esterase (signs of infection)
  • Microscopic examination of sediment

Urine Culture

A urine culture can identify and determine antibiotic sensitivity of bacteria causing a suspected UTI. This helps guide treatment.


Cystoscopy uses a small camera inserted in the urethra to visually inspect the lower urinary tract and locate sources of bleeding, blockages, tumors, etc.

Kidney Imaging

Imaging tests like renal ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI can check for kidney stones, masses, scarring, or obstruction.


A kidney biopsy involves removing a small sample of tissue for laboratory analysis. This helps diagnose kidney diseases.

Doctors select the appropriate tests based on the patient’s symptoms and medical history. Prompt diagnosis is key to preserving kidney function.

Treatments for Abnormal Urine with HIV

Treatment depends on the cause of the urine abnormality:


Bacterial UTIs are treated with antibiotics. For fungal or viral infections, doctors prescribe appropriate antimicrobial medications.

Kidney Stones

Small stones may pass naturally. Larger ones require lithotripsy to break up the stone or surgical removal. Medications can help prevent recurrent kidney stones.


Kidney, bladder, or prostate cancers are treated with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, or other cancer treatments.

Kidney Disease

Medications, diet changes, and dialysis can help manage chronic kidney disease. Kidney transplants are also an option for some patients.

Catheter Issues

Blocked urine drainage catheters require replacement. Infections are treated with appropriate antimicrobials.

Doctors also review HIV medications to minimize toxicity, if needed. With proper treatment, most causes of urine abnormalities can be resolved.

Lifestyle Changes for Healthy Urine

Some simple self-care steps can help maintain normal urine and kidney function:

  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
  • Urinate frequently and when you feel the urge.
  • Wipe front to back after using the toilet.
  • Take showers instead of baths.
  • Practice safe sex.
  • Wear cotton underwear and loose clothes.
  • Empty your bladder before and after sex.
  • Get regular urine screening tests.

A healthy diet low in salt, fat, and processed foods can also reduce kidney problems. Limiting caffeine and alcohol intake helps too. Don’t hesitate to discuss any urinary concerns with your healthcare provider.

The Bottom Line

HIV does not directly cause dark or discolored urine. However, some HIV medications, co-infections, or kidney problems can alter urine color and appearance in those living with HIV. Notify your doctor about any odd urine changes for prompt evaluation and treatment. With proper care, serious complications can often be avoided. While urine abnormalities in HIV patients may raise concerns, they do not necessarily indicate worsening of the HIV disease itself. Staying on effective antiretroviral treatment and adopting a healthy lifestyle can help people with HIV maintain normal urinary function.


Table 1. Common Causes of Urine Color Changes

Urine Color Possible Causes
Orange Dehydration, UTI, kidney disease, bladder cancer, antibiotics, laxatives
Dark yellow Dehydration, liver disease, hepatitis, prenatal vitamins
Pink, red Blood from UTI, kidney stones, trauma, kidney disease, medications, foods like beets
Blue, green UTI with pseudomonas bacteria, medications like amitriptyline, indomethacin
Brown, cola-colored Liver disease, rhabdomyolysis, laxative abuse, melanoma medications
Milky, cloudy Phosphorous in urine, kidney disease, STI, dehydration

Table 2. Potential Kidney-Related Causes of Urine Abnormalities in HIV Patients

Condition Urine Findings
Kidney stones Blood, pain, inability to urinate
Pyelonephritis (kidney infection) Cloudy, smelly urine; fever; chills; pain
Interstitial nephritis Foamy urine; flank pain
Medication toxicity Crystalluria, electrolyte disorders
Bladder cancer Blood, recurring UTIs
Kidney trauma Blood, pain, decreased urine output


While HIV itself does not directly darken or affect the color of urine, several related conditions common in AIDS patients can lead to abnormal urinary symptoms. These include opportunistic infections, kidney problems, sexually transmitted diseases, and side effects of medications used to manage HIV or associated conditions. Anyone experiencing a significant change in urination should seek prompt medical care to determine the cause and appropriate treatment. With an observant eye and the help of a healthcare provider, urine abnormalities can often be managed effectively in HIV patients.