Objective: To compare the spectrum of pulmonary disease in human immunodeficiency virus positive patients of African and European origin, with particular reference to Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia.
Design: Descriptive study with retrospective record review.
Setting: Tertiary care, university teaching hospitals in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Subjects: Sixty seven HIV-infected patients and 36 HIV-negative renal transplant patients (who served as controls) whose sputa were negative for tuberculosis and Pneumocystis carinii, and who had fibreoptic bronchoscopic evaluation for pulmonary disease between January 1985 and August 1992.
Measurements: Histological and cytological evaluation of pulmonary diseases.
Results: In the HIV infected group Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia was the most frequent disease in patients of both African and European origin but occurred less commonly in Africans than in Europeans (27.3% and 58.8%, respectively; p = 0.01). There was no statistically significant difference between patients of African and European origin in the frequency of any other diagnosis. In the renal transplant group the most frequent diagnosis was non-specific interstitial pneumonitis (Africans 33.3%, Europeans 37.0%), followed by Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (Africans 22.2%, European 14.8%). There was no difference between HIV-infected and renal transplant patients in the frequency of any diagnosis.
Conclusion: Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia should be considered in the diagnosis of HIV-infected African patients with pulmonary disease whose sputum smears for tuberculosis are negative.