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AIDS Res Ther. 2016 Nov 29;13(1):42.

Integrated therapy for HIV and cryptococcosis.

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Chakri Naruebodindra Medical Institute, Faculty of Medicine Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University, Samutprakan, Thailand.
Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.


Cryptococcosis has been one of the most common opportunistic infections and causes of mortality among HIV-infected patients, especially in resource-limited countries. Cryptococcal meningitis is the most common form of cryptococcosis. Laboratory diagnosis of cryptococcosis includes direct microscopic examination, isolation of Cryptococcus from a clinical specimen, and detection of cryptococcal antigen. Without appropriate treatment, cryptococcosis is fatal. Early diagnosis and treatment is the key to treatment success. Treatment of cryptococcosis consists of three main aspects: antifungal therapy, intracranial pressure management for cryptococcal meningitis, and restoration of immune function with antiretroviral therapy (ART). Optimal integration of these three aspects is crucial to achieving successful treatment and reducing the mortality. Antifungal therapy consists of three phases: induction, consolidation, and maintenance. A combination of two drugs, i.e. amphotericin B plus flucytosine or fluconazole, is preferred in the induction phase. Fluconazole monotherapy is recommended during consolidation and maintenance phases. In cryptococcal meningitis, intracranial pressure rises along with CSF fungal burden and is associated with morbidity and mortality. Aggressive control of intracranial pressure should be done. Management options include therapeutic lumbar puncture, lumbar drain insertion, ventriculostomy, or ventriculoperitoneal shunt. Medical treatment such as corticosteroids, mannitol, and acetazolamide are ineffective and should not be used. ART has proven to have a great impact on survival rates among HIV-infected patients with cryptococcosis. The time to start ART in HIV-infected patients with cryptococcosis has to be deferred until 5 weeks after the start of antifungal therapy. In general, any effective ART regimen is acceptable. Potential drug interactions between antiretroviral agents and amphotericin B, flucytosine, and fluconazole are minimal. Of most potential clinical relevance is the concomitant use of fluconazole and nevirapine. Concomitant use of these two drugs should be cautious, and patients should be monitored closely for nevirapine-associated adverse events, including hepatotoxicity. Overlapping toxicities of antifungal and antiretroviral drugs and immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome are not uncommon. Early recognition and appropriate management of these consequences can reinforce the successful integrated therapy in HIV-infected patients with cryptococcosis.


Cryptococcosis; HIV; Integrated therapy; Treatment

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