Discontinuation of maintenance therapy against toxoplasma encephalitis in AIDS patients with sustained response to anti-retroviral therapy

S Bertschy, M Opravil, M Cavassini, E Bernasconi, V Schiffer, P Schmid, M Flepp, J-P Chave, A Christen, H Furrer
Clinical Microbiology and Infection 2006, 12 (7): 666-71
Discontinuation of maintenance therapy against toxoplasma encephalitis (TE) for individuals infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) who are receiving successful anti-retroviral therapy is considered safe. Nevertheless, there are few published studies concerning this issue. Within the setting of the Swiss HIV Cohort Study, this report describes a prospective study of discontinuation of maintenance therapy against TE in patients with a sustained increase of CD4 counts to > 200 cells/microL and 14% of total lymphocytes, and no active lesions on cerebral magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In addition to clinical evaluation, cerebral MRI was performed at baseline, and 1 and 6 months following discontinuation. Twenty-six AIDS patients with a history of TE agreed to participate, but three patients (11%) could not be enrolled because they still showed enhancing cerebral lesions without a clinical correlate. One patient refused MRI after 6 months while clinically asymptomatic. Among the remaining 22 patients who discontinued maintenance therapy, one relapsed after 3 months. During a total follow-up of 58 patient-years, there was no TE relapse among the patients who had remained clinically and radiologically free of relapse during the study. Thus, discontinuation of maintenance therapy against TE was generally safe, but may fail in a minority of patients. Patients who remain clinically and radiologically free of relapse at 6 months after discontinuation are unlikely to experience a relapse of TE.

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