Study objectives: To examine the significance of previously suggested risk factors and assess outcomes associated with Aspergillus identification in respiratory specimens from HIV-seropositive individuals.
Design: This was a nested case-control study. Patients who had Aspergillus species identified in respiratory specimens were matched at the time of study entry 1:2 with control subjects according to study center, age, gender, race, HIV transmission category, and CD4 count.
Setting: The multicenter Pulmonary Complications of HIV Infection Study.
Participants: HIV-seropositive study participants.
Measurements and results: Between November 1988 and March 1994, Aspergillus species were detected in respiratory specimens from 19 (1.6%) participants. The rate of Aspergillus identification among participants with CD4 counts <200 cells per cubic millimeter during years 2 through 5 after study entry ranged from 1.2 to 1.9%. Neutropenia, a CD4 count <30 cells per cubic millimeter, corticosteroid use, and Pneumocystis carinii infection were associated with subsequent identification of Aspergillus in respiratory specimens. Cigarette and marijuana use, previously suggested risk factors, were not associated with Aspergillus respiratory infection. A substantially greater proportion of patients with Aspergillus compared with control subjects died during the study (90% vs 21%). Excluding four cases first diagnosed at autopsy, 67% died within 60 days after Aspergillus was detected.
Conclusions: Although Aspergillus is infrequently isolated from HIV-infected persons, the associated high mortality would support serious consideration of its clinical significance in those with advanced disease and risk factors.