Can chemoprophylaxis against opportunistic infections be discontinued after an increase in CD4 cells induced by highly active antiretroviral therapy?

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Background:In the ‚USPHS/IDSA Guidelines for Prevention of Opportunistic Infections in Persons Infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus‚, the indications for chemoprophylaxis are based on nadir CD4 cell count. Many patients have, however, experienced an increase in CD4 cell count after the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).Objectives:To assess incidences of opportunistic infections after discontinuation of chemoprophylaxis in HIV-infected patients, who have experienced a HAART-induced increase in CD4 cell count.Methods:The Danish guidelines for chemoprophylaxis against opportunistic infections in HIV-infected patients were revised in late 1997, allowing discontinuation of chemoprophylaxis after initiation of HAART if the CD4 cell count remained above a specified limit for more than 6 months. Consecutive patients were followed, and incidences of opportunistic infections after discontinuation of chemoprophylaxis were assessed.Results:A total of 219 patients discontinued Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP)-chemoprophylaxis (12% maintenance therapy). One case of PCP was diagnosed within 174 person-years (PY) of follow-up, resulting in an incidence of 0.6 cases/100 PY follow-up (95% confidence interval, 0.0-3.2). No cases of cerebral toxoplasmosis, cytomegalovirus chorioretinitis, or disseminated Mycobacterium avium infection were observed. Follow-up time for these was, however, limited.Conclusion:PCP-chemoprophylaxis can be safely discontinued after HAART-induced increase in CD4 cell count to more than 200×106 cells/l. Among consecutive patients who discontinue chemoprophylaxis according to well-defined guidelines, the observed incidence of PCP is below those reported earlier in patients with similar CD4 cell count.

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