We conducted a retrospective, multicenter study evaluating the safety of discontinuing maintenance therapy for cryptococcal meningitis after immune reconstitution. Inclusion criteria were a previous definitive diagnosis of cryptococcal meningitis, a CD4 cell count of >100 cells/μL while receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), and the subsequent discontinuation of maintenance therapy for cryptococcal meningitis. The primary end point was relapse of cryptococcal disease. As of July 2002, 100 patients were enrolled. When maintenance therapy was discontinued, the median CD4 cell count was 259 cells/μL and the median plasma virus load was 10 copies/mL, and serum cryptococcal antigen was undetectable in 56 patients. During a median followup period of 28.4 months (range, 6.7-64.5; 262 person-years), 4 events were observed (incidence, 1.53 events per 100 person-years; 95% confidence interval, 0.42-3.92). Three of these patients had a CD4 cell count of >100 cells/ μL and a positive serum cryptococcal antigen test result during the recurrent episode. In conclusion, discontinuation of maintenance therapy for cryptococcal meningitis is safe if the CD4 cell count increases to >100 cells/ μL while receiving HAART. Recurrent cryptococcal infection should be suspected in patients whose serum cryptococcal antigen test results revert back to positive after discontinuation of maintenance therapy.
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