An overview of diagnostic criteria for identification of cryptococcal meningitis with special emphasis on AIDS
Fungi are common in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive patients but HIV predisposes patients to several viral and bacterial infections that can result in meningitis. Understanding the burden of cryptococcal disease is particularly important for public health officials to adequately plan and prioritize needed resources for disease prevention and control. Cryptococcal meningitis, a fungal infection caused by Cryptococcus spp. is the second most common cause of opportunistic fungal infection in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). It is important to define the burden of cryptococcal meningitis, as it relates to other important diseases, and to understand the need for public health attention to this infection. Frequently, HIV infection weakens the body's ability to fight disease. Infections which are rarely seen in those with normal immune systems are life-threatening to those with HIV. It is time to expand this global focus on HIV to include one of its most serious consequences, cryptococcosis. Few, if any, complications of advanced HIV disease have a greater influence on morbidity and mortality. We are likely to see little real progress in the outcome for these patients until there is a global commitment to invest in more drug availability, better access to easily used diagnostics and therapeutic devices, and more innovative clinical researches.
Key words: Cryptococcal meningitis, immune system, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), serotrypes.