What causes pneumonia in patients with HIV infection?

Updated: Jan 07, 2019
  • Author: Julie B Zhao, MD; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP  more...
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Patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are at risk for a number of pulmonary infections. Pneumocystis jirovecii (formerly Pneumocystis carinii) remains the most common opportunistic infection in this group, while the incidence of mycobacterial infections has decreased significantly. [6]

HIV causes dysfunction of cell-mediated and humoral immunity. CD4 T cells principally help other cells achieve their effector function. Low CD4 counts, which correlate with the degree of immunosuppression, cause a disruption of B-cell differentiation. Impaired B-cell functions, particularly memory cells, are correlated with increased risk of infection. [7]

Despite the advances in the development of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), pulmonary disease remains an important cause of mortality and morbidity in persons with HIV/AIDS. [8, 9, 10]

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