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AIDS. 1994 Jul;8(7):935-9.

Aerosolized pentamidine as primary prophylaxis for Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia: efficacy, mortality and morbidity.

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Department of Infectious Diseases, Huddinge Hospital, Sweden.



Primary prophylaxis against Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) for patients with HIV infection has been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We evaluated alternatives to routine primary PCP prophylaxis with aerosolized pentamidine.


A total of 121 HIV-infected patients with CD4+ cell counts < or = 200 x 10(6)/l or an AIDS diagnosis were enrolled in a controlled study of aerosolized pentamidine as primary PCP prophylaxis. Patients were randomly assigned to treatment (n = 61) with aerosolized pentamidine once every month or to no treatment (n = 60). Patients were evaluated for PCP, mortality, morbidity and progression of HIV disease. Morbidity was estimated from the number of days patients were unable to work due to illness, number of days hospitalized and AIDS events.


Baseline characteristics were similar in the treatment and control groups and mean CD4+ cell counts were 116 and 107 x 10(6)/l, respectively. Eight incidents of PCP and 19 deaths were observed in the treatment group during a median follow-up of 16.4 months (range, 2.3-32.4 months). Nineteen incidents of PCP and 13 deaths, of which one was related to an acute episode of PCP, were noted in the control group. Median follow-up of controls was 18.5 months (range, 3.1-32.9 months). Patients in the treatment group were unable to work 19% of the observation time and were hospitalized for 4.3% of that time. Corresponding figures were 20 and 3.0%, respectively, in the control group.


Aerosolized pentamidine had significant prophylactic efficacy, but we could not detect any major effect on mortality and morbidity. The overall mortality and morbidity were not markedly influenced by PCP. Clinical check-ups and treatment of acute PCP could be a justifiable alternative to drug prophylaxis with aerosolized pentamidine in selected patients.

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