Long-Lasting Remission of Cytomegalovirus Retinitis without Maintenance Therapy in Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Infected Patients

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Seven AIDS patients who were receiving suppressive therapy for previously diagnosed cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis were offered treatment with protease inhibitors (PIs). Secondary prophylaxis for CMV was discontinued after 3 months of therapy with PIs if patients had >150 CD4 cells/mm3 and a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) load of <200 copies/mL and if they were negative for CMV as determined by qualitative CMV polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Ophthalmologic exams were done periodically. After a median follow-up of 9 months (range, 9-12), no new episodes of CMV retinitis were observed. CD4 cell counts were >150 cells/mm3 in all cases, HIV loads were <200 copies/mL, and results for qualitative CMV PCRs remained negative. These observations suggest that for selected patients with healed CMV retinitis who have immunologic and virologic evidence of a clinical response to potent combination antiretroviral therapy, temporary discontinuation of a chronic anti-CMV suppressive therapy may not result in further retinal necrosis. However, the long-term immunologic benefit of PIs and hence the safety of prolonged withdrawal of anti-CMV therapy is unknown.

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