Background. Pneumocystis pneumonia (PcP) is the second leading cause of morbidity and mortality in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–infected patients in the United States. Although the host risk factors for the development of PcP are well established, the environmental (climatological, air pollution) risk factors are poorly understood. The major goal of this study was to determine the environmental risk factors for admissions of HIV-positive patients with PcP to a single medical center.
Methods. Between 1997 and 2008, 457 HIV-positive patients with microscopically confirmed PcP were admitted to the San Francisco General Hospital. A case-crossover design was applied to identify environmental risk factors for PcP hospitalizations. Climatological and air pollution data were collected from the Environmental Protection Agency and Weather Warehouse databases. Conditional logistic regression was used to evaluate the association of each environmental factor and PcP hospital admission.
Results. Hospital admissions were significantly more common in the summer than in the other seasons. Increases in temperature and sulfur dioxide levels were independently associated with hospital admissions for PcP, but the effects of sulfur dioxide were modified by increasing carbon monoxide levels.
Conclusions. This study identifies both climatological and air pollution constituents as independent risk factors for hospitalization of HIV-positive patients with PcP in San Francisco. Thus, the environmental effects on PcP are more likely complex than previously thought. Further studies are needed to understand how these factors exert their effects and to determine if these factors are associated with PcP in other geographic locations.