Mycobacterium avium complex in patients with HIV infection in the era of highly active antiretroviral therapy

Lancet Infect Dis. 2004 Sep;4(9):557-65. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(04)01130-2.


Disseminated Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) infection is a common complication of late-stage HIV-1 infection. Since the advent of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), the rate of MAC infection has declined substantially, but patients with low CD4 cell counts remain at risk. Among patients in the Johns Hopkins cohort with advanced HIV disease, the proportion developing MAC has fallen from 16% before 1996 to 4% after 1996, with a current rate of less than 1% per year. Factors associated with developing MAC include younger age, no use of HAART, and enrollment before 1996. Prophylaxis with azithromycin or clarithromycin is recommended for all patients with CD4 counts less than 50 cells/mL. Optimum treatment for disseminated MAC includes clarithromycin and ethambutol, and another investigation suggests that the addition of rifabutin might reduce mortality. Both prophylaxis and treatment of disseminated MAC can be discontinued in patients who have responded to HAART, and specific guidelines for withdrawing treatment have been published. Although HAART has altered the frequency and outcome of MAC infection, it remains an important complication of AIDS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / drug therapy*
  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / prevention & control
  • Age Factors
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • Clarithromycin / therapeutic use
  • Ethambutol / therapeutic use
  • HIV Infections / complications
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • HIV-1*
  • Humans
  • Mycobacterium avium Complex
  • Mycobacterium avium-intracellulare Infection / drug therapy*
  • Mycobacterium avium-intracellulare Infection / prevention & control


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Ethambutol
  • Clarithromycin