© The Author(s) 2019. There is increasing interest in the peripheral blood platelet-to-lymphocyte ratio (PLR) and neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) as markers of systemic inflammation. We audited records of unselected hospitalised HIV-positive adults to identify the frequency of elevated PLR and NLR, potential associations with specific diagnoses, and outcome. Of 259 patients audited, their median age was 47 years (interquartile range = 41–54); 188 (73%) were men. An elevated PLR occurred in 87 patients (33.6%); 67 (25.9%) had an elevated NLR; 200 (77%) had an elevated C-reactive protein (CRP). Elevated PLR and NLR was associated with a variety of infectious, inflammatory, and malignant conditions similar to conditions described in the general non-HIV-infected adult population. Additionally, elevated PLR and NLR occurred both in patients in receipt of antiretroviral therapy (with undetectable viral loads), as well as in those with newly-diagnosed and poorly-controlled infection. Fourteen patients with infectious and inflammatory conditions had an elevated PLR and normal CRP, with/without elevated NLR. There was no association between elevated PLR or NLR and ICU admission, p = 0.1001 and p = 0.605, respectively. Elevated NLR, but not PLR was associated with death, p = 0.0405 and p = 1.000, respectively: two-tailed Fisher’s exact test. The single site nature of the audit and relatively small number of patients limits these observations.