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Clin Infect Dis. 2008 Jun 1;46(11):1694-701. doi: 10.1086/587667.

Outcomes of cryptococcal meningitis in Uganda before and after the availability of highly active antiretroviral therapy.

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Infectious Disease Institute, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda.



Cryptococcal meningitis (CM) is the proximate cause of death in 20%-30% of persons with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome in Africa.


Two prospective, observational cohorts enrolled human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected, antiretroviral-naive persons with CM in Kampala, Uganda. The first cohort was enrolled in 2001-2002 (n = 92), prior to the availability of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), and the second was enrolled in 2006-2007 (n = 44), when HAART was available.


Ugandans presented with prolonged CM symptoms (median duration, 14 days; interquartile range, 7-21 days). The 14-day survival rates were 49% in 2001-2002 and 80% in 2006 (P < .001). HAART was started 35 +/- 13 days after CM diagnosis and does not explain the improved 14-day survival rate in 2006. In 2006-2007, the survival rate continued to decrease after hospitalization, with only 55% surviving to initiate HAART as an outpatient. Probable cryptococcal-related immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome occurred in 42% of patients, with 4 deaths. At 6 months after CM diagnosis, 18 persons (41%) were alive and receiving HAART in 2007. The median cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) opening pressure was 330 mm H(2)O; 81% of patients had elevated pressure (>200 mm H(2)O). Only 5 patients consented to therapeutic lumbar puncture. There was a trend for higher mortality for pressures >250 mm H(2)O (odds ratio [OR], 2.1; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.9-5.2; P = .09). Initial CSF WBC counts of <5 cells/mL were associated with failure of CSF sterilization (OR, 17.3; 95% CI, 3.1-94.3; P < .001), and protein levels <35 mg/dL were associated with higher mortality (OR, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.2-3.3; P = .007).


Significant CM-associated mortality persists, despite the administration of amphotericin B and HIV therapy, because of the high mortality rate before receipt of HAART and because of immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome-related complications after HAART initiation. Approaches to increase acceptance of therapeutic lumbar punctures are needed.

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