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Ophthalmic Manifestations of HIV in the Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy Era

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HIV-related eye disease can be classified as retinal HIV microangiopathy, opportunistic infections, neuro-ophthalmic manifestations and unusual malignancies. There is a 52–100% lifetime accumulative risk of HIV patients developing eye problems. Seventy-seven per cent of patients with ocular manifestations of HIV had CD4 counts < 200 cells/μL. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is the most prevalent opportunistic infection, however, Africa has a low incidence of this, and more commonly squamous cell carcinoma, compared to the western hemisphere. Due to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), the anti-CMV therapy may be discontinued if the CD4+ T cell count is > 100 cells/μL for a minimum of three months. Despite HAART, patients with a CD4 count < 50 cells/μL have a similar risk of developing CMV retinitis as compared to the pre-HAART era. Opportunistic infections include CMV, herpetic retinopathy (progressive outer retinal necrosis – PORN), less commonly toxoplasmosis, pneumocystis and cryptococcus. Malignancies associated with HIV include Kaposi’s sarcoma and conjunctival squamous cell carcinoma. Cranial nerve palsies, optic disc swelling and atrophy are characteristic neuro-ophthalmic features. They usually occur secondary to meningitis/encephalitis (from cryptococcus and tuberculosis). With the advent of HAART, new complications have developed in CMV retinitis: immune recovery uveitis (IRU) and cystoid macula oedema (CMO). Immune recovery uveitis occurs in 71% of patients if HAART is started before the induction of the anti-CMV treatment. However, this is reduced to 31% if HAART is started after the induction treatment. Molluscum contagiosum and Kaposi’s sarcoma can spontaneously resolve on HAART. Highly active anti-retroviral therapy has reduced the frequencies of opportunistic infections and improved the remission duration in HIV patients.

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e-Published: 14 Aug, 2013
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