A $2 Test Might Have Helped This Man With HIV Avoid Daily Spinal Taps

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

His body wasted from AIDS, Fred Muzaya sat up in his bed on a January morning at Mulago Hospital in Kampala, Uganda, and faintly smiled at a doctor he couldn’t see.

A former taxi driver, Muzaya, 26, may have been infected with HIV several years ago, perhaps more. But it was only months ago that he finally went to a doctor — when a pain in his head that had started several weeks earlier became too much to bear.

The culprit: cryptococcal meningitis, a fungal disease of the brain and spinal cord.

A so-called opportunistic infection, crypto is a threat primarily to those with HIV who lack access to the antiretroviral therapy that can keep the virus in check. A healthy immune system can fight off crypto with ease. But in Muzaya, who had never taken the drugs, the fungus had spread unchecked, impairing a process critical to survival: reabsorption by the brain of cerebrospinal fluid.

Source: NPR (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
infectious diseases