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Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia and HIV/AIDS

Related Terms

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Background

  • Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia (formerly called Pneumocystis carinii or PCP) is the most common opportunistic infection that occurs in AIDS patients. Originally, researchers thought a one-cell organism (protozoan) called Pneumocystis carinii caused the disease, but recent research suggests that a fungus called Pneumocystis jiroveci causes the pneumonia. However, the condition is still commonly referred to as PCP.
  • According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), PCP is considered an AIDS-defining illness. This means that when HIV-infected patients develop PCP, their condition has progressed to AIDS.
  • Even if healthy individuals are exposed to Pneumocystis jiroveci, they do not typically develop PCP because they are able to inhibit the growth of the fungus. However, children and people with weakened immune systems, such as HIV/AIDS patients, are unable to adequately fight against the fungus.
  • Individuals with a CD4 cell (helper T-cells that help fight against disease and infection) count lower than 200 cells per microliter of blood have the greatest risk of developing PCP. Once the CD4 cell count falls below 200, the patient's condition has progressed to AIDS. Healthy individuals have a CD4 cell count between 600 and 1,200 per microliter of blood. In addition, people who have CD4 cell counts lower than 300 and have already had another opportunistic infection have an increased risk of developing PCP.
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Causes

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Risk Factors

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Symptoms

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Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Integrative Therapies

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Prevention

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.