Cryptococcosis is a common opportunistic infection in adults with AIDS. Few cases of cryptococcosis complicating pediatric AIDS have been reported. To our knowledge there are no studies that describe the epidemiology, clinical manifestations and outcome of cryptococcosis in a large population of HIV-infected children.Methods
We identified the cases of cryptococcosis through a retrospective review of the hospital records of the 473 HIV-infected children prospectively monitored in the Pediatric Branch of the National Cancer Institute during the 8 years from 1987 to 1995.Results
Four (0.85%) patients developed cryptococcosis during the study period. All patients had profound depression of the absolute CD4 counts, a history of previous opportunistic infections, and onset of cryptococcosis in the second decade of life. Cryptococcosis developed as a disseminated infection or a localized process of the lungs. Intermittent fever was the most common presenting manifestation. Serum cryptococcal antigen was positive in all patients and gradually declined after the institution of the antifungal therapy. All patients were treated with amphotericin B with or without flucytosine as initial therapy. Suppressive therapy consisted of fluconazole with or without flucytosine. There were no deaths due to Cryptococcus neoformans.Conclusions
Cryptococcosis is an infrequent yet treatable opportunistic infection of advanced pediatric AIDS that may present with subtle manifestations and warrants careful consideration in the evaluation of febrile HIV-infected children.