Antimicrobial therapy for the treatment of opportunistic infections in HIV/AIDS patients: a critical appraisal
Jo Seddon1, Sanjay Bhagani2
1Department of Infectious Diseases, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK; 2Department of Infection and Immunity, Royal Free Hospital NHS Trust, London, UK
Abstract: The widespread use of antiretroviral therapy (ART) has entirely changed the management of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and dramatically reduced the rates of opportunistic infections (OI). However, OI continue to cause significant morbidity and mortality in both developed countries, where presentation with advanced HIV infection is common, and also in developing countries where ART is less widely available. Evidence to direct OI guidelines is partly limited by the fact that many large-scale studies date from the pre-ART era and more recent studies are sometimes poorly powered due to the falling rates of OI. Treatment of OI is now known to be as much about antimicrobials as about immune reconstitution with ART, and recent studies help guide the timing of initiation of ART in different infections. OI have also become complicated by the immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome phenomenon which may occur once successful immune recovery begins. Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole has long been one of the most important antibiotics in the treatment and prevention of OI and remains paramount. It has a broad spectrum of activity against Pneumocystis jiroveci, toxoplasmosis, and bacterial infections and has an important role to play in preventing life-threatening OI. New advances in treating OI are coming from a variety of quarters: in cytomegalovirus eye disease, the use of oral rather than intravenous drugs is changing the face of therapy; in cryptococcal meningitis, improved drug formulations and combination therapy is improving clearance rates and reducing drug toxicities; and in gut disease, the possibility of rapid immune restitution with ART is replacing the need for antimicrobials against cryptosporidia and microsporidia.
Keywords: HIV, AIDS, opportunistic infections, treatment, antimicrobials
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