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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1999 Jan;103(1 Pt 1):93-8.

Criteria for assessing cutaneous anergy in women with or at risk for HIV infection. HIV Epidemiologic Research Study Group.

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Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY 10467, USA. Disease, Department of Medicine,



Controversy exists about both the clinical utility of anergy testing and the optimal criteria for defining anergy.


We sought to assess various definitions of cutaneous anergy for ability to distinguish HIV status, level of immunodeficiency, and ability to mount a tuberculin reaction among women with or at risk for HIV infection.


HIV-seropositive (n = 721) and HIV-seronegative (n = 358) at-risk women at academic medical centers in Baltimore, Detroit, New York, and Providence had cutaneous testing with mumps, Candida, tetanus toxoid, and tuberculin antigens. Associations with HIV status and CD4+ lymphocyte levels were analyzed.


Candida, mumps, and tetanus antigens alone or in combination elicited reactions significantly less often in HIV-seropositive than in HIV-seronegative women and less often in seropositive women with lower CD4+ counts, regardless of induration cutpoint chosen to define a positive reaction. The best antigen combinations for distinguishing groups included tetanus and mumps. Some women nonreactive to the 3 antigens ("anergic") had positive tuberculin reactions among both seropositive subjects (range, 1.1% to 2.9% depending on induration cutpoint for defining anergy) and seronegative subjects (range, 8.9% to 14%).


Absence of reactions to Candida, mumps, and tetanus antigens alone or in combination and at any induration cutpoint is associated with HIV status and with CD4+ level. Combinations, including tetanus and mumps antigens with an induration cutpoint of less than 2 mm, may be the best for defining anergy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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