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Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2000 Sep;85(3):241-4.

A 5-day course of oral desensitization to trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (T/S) in patients with human immunodeficiency virus type-1 infection who were previously intolerant to T/S.

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AIDS Clinical Center, International Medical Center of Japan, Tokyo.



Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (T/S) is an essential drug in patients with human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) infection to prevent opportunistic infections. About 40% to 60% of them develop skin rash which leads to discontinue the medication. A precise mechanism of the reaction is not known.


To make the patients more tolerable to the medication and to make clear whether or not the reaction is caused by serum sulfamethoxazole-specific IgE.


We established a 5-day protocol, in which T/S was administered orally as a granular form in increasing doses beginning with 0.005 g (it contains trimethoprim 0.4 mg and sulfamethoxazole 2 mg) and doubled every 12 hours until the therapeutic dose was achieved. We tried to desensitize T/S in 17 patients with HIV-1 infection who were previously intolerant to T/S and measured the specific IgE in sera.


Desensitization was successfully completed in 15 (88.2%) of the patients. In two patients who failed the desensitization, one was due to fever and the other was gastric irritation. During followup in a mean period of 16.6 months (range, 8 to 23 months) as of May, 1999, none has had Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) while receiving T/S after desensitization. Sulfamethoxazole-specific IgE did not increase, indicating that it was not the major cause of skin rash due to T/S in our cases.


These preliminary results show that most patients who were thought to be intolerant to T/S and had no sulfamethoxazole-specific IgE can be safely desensitized and received the drug subsequently as an effective prophylaxis for PCP.

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