Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Todd A. May

Pneumocystis carinii Pneumonia in HIV-Infected Patients

TO THE EDITOR: In their excellent review(1) of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) in patients infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Drs. Wilkin and Feinberg refer to the latest Public Health Service guidelines which “recommend discontinuation of primary PCP prophylaxis in patients whose CD4+ cell counts are sustained above 200 per mm3 for at least six months and who have well-controlled HIV viral loads.”(2) This new recommendation is based on study results suggesting that patients who respond well to potent combination antiretroviral therapy have protection against PCP and other opportunistic infections.(3-6)

Our experience at the Family Practice Inpatient Service, San Francisco General Hospital, is consistent with this observation. Despite increasing numbers of total admissions to our service in recent years, the number of patients admitted with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), including those with PCP, have dropped dramatically since the emergence of potent antiretroviral therapy (see the accompanying figure).

Indeed, most patients admitted with acute PCP over the past few years have not been taking antiretroviral agents consistently. For the family physician caring for HIV-infected patients who are responders to potent combination antiretroviral therapy, omitting primary PCP prophylaxis while carefully monitoring for any signs of disease progression is a reasonable management strategy.




UCSF Family Practice Residency Program

San Francisco General Hospital

San Francisco, CA 94110


(1.) Wilkin A, Feinberg J. Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia: a clinical review. Am Fam Physician 1999;60: 1699-708, 1713-14.

(2.) 1999 USPHS/IDSA guidelines for the prevention of opportunistic infections in persons infected with the human immunodeficiency virus. U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) and Infectious Diseases Society of American (IDSA) MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 1999;48:1-59,61-6.

(3.) Ledergerber B, Egger M, Erard V, Weber R, Hirschel B, Furrer H, et al. AIDS-related opportunistic illnesses occurring after initiation of potent antiretroviral therapy: the Swiss HIV Cohort Study. JAMA 1999;282:2220-6.

(4.) Furrer H, Egger M, Opravil M, Bernasconi E, Hirschel B, Battegay M, et al. Discontinuation of primary prophylaxis against Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia in HIV-1-infected adults treated with combination antiretroviral therapy. N Eng J Med 1999;340:1301-6.

(5.) Weverling GJ, Mocroft A, Ledergerber B, Kirk O, Gonzales-Lahoz J, Monforte A, et al. Discontinuation of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia prophylaxis after start of highly active antiretroviral therapy in HIV-1 infection. EuroSIDA Study Group. Lancet 1999;353:1293-8.

(6.) Schneider MM, Borleffs JC, Stolk RP, Jaspers CA, Hoepelman AI. Discontinuation of prophylaxis for Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia in HIV-1-infected patients treated with highly active antiretroviral therapy. Lancet 1999;353:201-3.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This letter was sent to the authors of “Pneumocystis carinii Pneumonia: A Clinical Review,” who did not reply.

Send letters to Jay Siwek, M.D., Editor, American Family Physician, 11400 Tomahawk Creek Pkwy., Leawood, KS 66211-2672; fax: 913-906-6080; e-mail: afplet@ aafp.org. Please include your complete address, telephone number and fax number. Letters should be double-spaced, fewer than 500 words and limited to one table or figure and six references. Please submit a word count. Letters submitted for publication in AFP must not be submitted to any other publication. Possible conflicts of interest must be disclosed at time of submission. Submission of a letter constitutes transfer of copyright to the American Academy of Family Physicians. The editors may edit letters to meet style and space requirements.

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