Background. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis has been extensively described in patients with advanced or late human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease under ineffective treatment of opportunistic infection and antiretroviral therapy (ART) failure. However, there is limited information about patients who develop active cytomegalovirus retinitis as an immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS) after successful initiation of ART. Therefore, a case definition of cytomegalovirus–immune recovery retinitis (CMV-IRR) is proposed here.
Methods. We reviewed medical records of 116 HIV-infected patients with CMV retinitis attending our institution during January 2003–June 2012. We retrospectively studied HIV-infected patients who had CMV retinitis on ART initiation or during the subsequent 6 months. Clinical and immunological characteristics of patients with active CMV retinitis were described.
Results. Of the 75 patients under successful ART included in the study, 20 had improvement of CMV retinitis. The remaining 55 patients experienced CMV-IRR; 35 of those developed CMV-IRR after ART initiation (unmasking CMV-IRR) and 20 experienced paradoxical clinical worsening of retinitis (paradoxical CMV-IRR). Nineteen patients with CMV-IRR had a CD4 count of ≥50 cells/µL. Six patients with CMV-IRR subsequently developed immune recovery uveitis.
Conclusions. There is no case definition for CMV-IRR, although this condition is likely to occur after successful initiation of ART, even in patients with high CD4 T-cell counts. By consequence, we propose the case definitions for paradoxical and unmasking CMV-IRR. We recommend close follow-up of HIV-infected patients following ART initiation.