Human bartonellosis is a South American anthroponosis caused by Bartonella bacilliformis. The disease has an acute phase characterized by invasion of red blood cells by parasites, and consequent severe anemia; and a chronic phase presenting with benign vascular tumors. During the acute phase, affected individuals are prone to developing opportunistic infections with a variety of organisms similar to the ones seen in AIDS. After antibiotic treatment is instituted, a subgroup of patients may develop atypical symptoms which potentially represent clinical manifestations of the restoration of macrophage function. We speculate that the pathophysiology of the acute phase of human bartonellosis resembles AIDS, with a period of immunosuppression following the infection and later, clinical manifestations of immune reconstitution subsequent to treatment.