Poor long-term outcomes for cryptococcal meningitis in rural South Africa

  • RJ Lessells
  • PC Mutevedzi
  • T Heller
  • ML Newell


Objectives. To explore linkage to and retention in HIV care after an episode of cryptococcal meningitis (CM) in rural South Africa. Design. A retrospective case series of adult individuals (≥16 years old) with laboratory-confirmed CM from January - December 2007 at Hlabisa Hospital – a district hospital in northern KwaZulu- Natal. Outcome measures. Inpatient mortality and associated risk factors were analysed. The proportion alive and on antiretroviral therapy (ART) at 2 years was determined by linkage to the HIV treatment programme. Results. One hundred and four individuals were identified with laboratory diagnosis of CM; 74/104 (71.2%) with complete records were included in the analysis. Inpatient mortality was high (40.5%) and was significantly associated with reduced conscious level (aHR 3.09, 95% CI 1.30 - 7.33) and absence of headache (aHR 0.33 for headache, 95% CI 0.13 - 0.87). Only 8 individuals (10.8% of all study subjects) were alive and receiving ART 2 years after the CM episode. Conclusions. Long-term outcomes of CM are poor in routine practice. Interventions to strengthen linkage to HIV treatment and care and continuation of secondary fluconazole prophylaxis are critical.