- Cryptococcal meningitis is one of the major causes of mortality among people with HIV/AIDS
- Timely screening of such persons and providing appropriate therapy could help bring down the mortality rate
VARANASI, 19.09.2023: A team of BHU scientists has carried out a breakthrough research with regard to the management of Cryptococcal Meningitis among persons living with HIV/AIDS. The study by Prof Jaya Chakravarty and Prof Shyam Sundar, Department of Medicine, and Prof Ragini Tilak and Dr Munesh Kumar Gupta, Department of Microbiology, Institute of Medical Sciences, and their residents, has suggested an effective way to bring down the mortality due to Cryptococcal Meningitis in this vulnerable population.
The study shows high prevalence of Cryptococcal antigen among immune-suppressed people living with HIV in Eastern India. It notes that the prevalence (15%) of cryptococcal antigen among PWHA of this region is higher than other parts of the country. Cryptococcal meningitis is a CNS (Central nervous System) infection caused by fungi and is a major cause of mortality among people with HIV/AIDS. Its treatment is long, and even with treatment, there is an increased mortality rate. However, the study suggests that by screening the blood of severely immuno-suppressed PWHA for cryptococcal antigen, even before there are symptoms, and initiating appropriate therapy the mortality can be brought down significantly.
Prof. Jaya Chakravarty said, “The screening of PWHA should be adopted at the Antiretroviral Treatment Centers (ART Centre) of this region. At present this test is available in the Microbiology Department of IMS, BHU, at a charge of Rs. 500 per test. However, we would request the Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Society to provide the test kit free of cost so that all PWHA can be screened at the ART centre.” This research could potentially change the way Cryptococcal infection is diagnosed and treated in the future. This research comes at an important time as we celebrate fungal awareness week to encourage healthcare workers to think about fungal infection, added Prof. Chakravarty.
The work was also presented by Prof. Jaya Chakravarty at the 12th International AIDS Society (IAS) conference on HIV science in Brisbane, Australia. The conference is the biggest event of organizations working in the area of AIDS awareness and prevention.