, Volume 258, Issue 1, pp 3-13
Date: 17 Sep 2010

Tuberculous meningitis in patients infected with human immunodeficiency virus

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Abstract

Tuberculosis is the most common opportunistic infection in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infected persons. HIV-infected patients have a high incidence of tuberculous meningitis as well. The exact incidence and prevalence of tuberculous meningitis in HIV-infected patients are not known. HIV infection does not significantly alter the clinical manifestations, laboratory, radiographic findings, or the response to therapy. Still, some differences have been noted. For example, the histopathological examination of exudates in HIV-infected patients shows fewer lymphocytes, epithelioid cells, and Langhan’s type of giant cells. Larger numbers of acid-fast bacilli may be seen in the cerebral parenchyma and meninges. The chest radiograph is abnormal in up to 46% of patients with tuberculous meningitis. Tuberculous meningitis is likely to present with cerebral infarcts and mass lesions. Cryptococcal meningitis is important in differential diagnosis. The recommended duration of treatment in HIV-infected patients is 9–12 months. The benefit of adjunctive corticosteroids is uncertain. Antiretroviral therapy and antituberculosis treatment should be initiated at the same time, regardless of CD4 cell counts. Tuberculous meningitis may be a manifestation of paradoxical tuberculosis-associated immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome. Some studies have demonstrated a significant impact of HIV co-infection on mortality from tuberculous meningitis. HIV-infected patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculous meningitis have significantly higher mortality. The best way to prevent HIV-associated tuberculous meningitis is to diagnose and isolate infectious cases of tuberculosis promptly and administer appropriate treatment.