Background. Cryptococcal meningitis is a leading cause of death in people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immune deficiency syndrome. The World Health Organizations recommends pre-antiretroviral treatment (ART) cryptococcal antigen (CRAG) screening in persons with CD4 below 100 cells/μL. We assessed the prevalence and outcome of cryptococcal antigenemia in rural southern Tanzania. Methods. We conducted a retrospective study including all ART-naive adults with CD4 <150 cells/μL prospectively enrolled in the Kilombero and Ulanga Antiretroviral Cohort between 2008 and 2012. Cryptococcal antigen was assessed in cryopreserved pre-ART plasma. Cox regression estimated the composite outcome of death or loss to follow- up (LFU) by CRAG status and fluconazole use. Results. Of 750 ART-naive adults, 28 (3.7%) were CRAG-positive, corresponding to a prevalence of 4.4% (23 of 520) in CD4 <100 and 2.2% (5 of 230) in CD4 100-150 cells/μL.Within 1 year, 75% (21 of 28) of CRAG-positive and 42% (302 of 722) of CRAG-negative patients were dead or LFU (P < .001), with no differences across CD4 strata. Cryptococcal antigen positivity was an independent predictor of death or LFU after adjusting for relevant confounders (hazard ratio [HR], 2.50; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.29-4.83; P = .006). Cryptococcal meningitis occurred in 39% (11 of 28) of CRAG-positive patients, with similar retention-in-care regardless of meningitis diagnosis (P = .8). Cryptococcal antigen titer >1:160 was associated with meningitis development (odds ratio, 4.83; 95% CI, 1.24-8.41; P = .008). Fluconazole receipt decreased death or LFU in CRAG-positive patients (HR, 0.18; 95% CI, .04-.78; P = .022). Conclusions. Cryptococcal antigenemia predicted mortality or LFU among ART-naive HIV-infected persons with CD4 <150 cells/μL, and fluconazole increased survival or retention-in-care, suggesting that targeted pre-ART CRAG screening may decrease early mortality or LFU. A CRAG screening threshold of CD4 <100 cells/μL missed 18% of CRAG-positive patients, suggesting guidelines should consider a higher threshold.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Infectious Diseases Societyof America.
- Cryptococcal antigen
- Cryptococcal meningitis
- Retention in care
- Sub-Saharan Africa