Cochrane Summaries

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Antifungal interventions for the primary prevention of cryptococcal disease in adults with HIV

Chang LW, Phipps WT, Kennedy GE, Rutherford G
Published Online: 
21 January 2009

Infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) leads to progressive destruction and weakening of the body's immune system. Patients with advanced HIV disease are vulnerable to various diseases, called opportunistic infections (OIs), which most people with normal immune systems are protected against. One of these OIs, a fungal disease called cryptococcosis, causes meningitis (an inflammation of the membrane surrounding the brain) and pneumonia and is lethal when untreated. This study looked at two medications, itraconazole and fluconazole, which could be taken by patients with advanced HIV disease, to prevent this fungal infection from ever occurring. This study found that both were effective drugs for preventing cryptococcal disease. However, these drugs were not found to be effective in decreasing the overall death rates from HIV. More studies of these medications are needed to further evaluate their cost-effectiveness and benefits in decreasing death rates in groups of patients with HIV.