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Clin Infect Dis. 1998 Jan;26(1):34-45; discussion 46-7.

Rapidly progressive herpetic retinal necrosis: a blinding disease characteristic of advanced AIDS.

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Department of Ophthalmology, University of South Florida College of Medicine, Tampa, USA.


Eleven patients with rapidly progressive herpetic retinal necrosis (RPHRN) complicating AIDS were investigated retrospectively to study the disease spectrum, systemic involvement, and therapy. The mean CD4 cell count was 24/microL. There was a characteristic disease pattern with rapid progression, 82% bilaterality, relative resistance to intravenous antiviral therapy, and 70% retinal detachment. Varicella-zoster virus was the probable cause in 10 patients (detected by polymerase chain reaction in two eyes investigated), and herpes simplex virus was the probable cause in one. Cutaneous zoster occurred previously in 73% but was not concurrent. Seventy-three percent had central nervous system disease, possibly virus-related. RPHRN may be a local herpetic recrudescence in an immune-privileged site with transneural spread. Only four of 20 affected eyes retained useful vision. Poor ocular bioavailability, retinal ischemia, acquired drug resistance, and strain pathogenicity may underlie treatment failure. Acyclovir therapy appears relatively ineffective. Combined intravenous and intravitreal therapy with foscarnet and ganciclovir may be the best current management. Research advances are needed urgently.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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