Cryptococcal meningitis: A review of cryptococcal antigen screening programs in Africa


INTRODUCTION: Cryptococcal meningitis remains a significant contributor to AIDS-related mortality despite widened access to antiretroviral therapy. Cryptococcal antigen (CrAg) can be detected in the blood prior to development of meningitis. Development of highly sensitive and specific rapid diagnostic CrAg tests has helped facilitate the adoption of CrAg screening programs in 19 African countries. AREAS COVERED: The biological rationale for CrAg screening and the programmatic strategies for its implementation are reviewed. We describe the approach to the investigation of patients with cryptococcal antigenemia and the importance of lumbar puncture to identify individuals who may have cryptococcal meningitis in the absence of symptoms. The limitations of current treatment recommendations and the potential role of newly defined combination antifungal therapies are discussed. A literature review was conducted using a broad database search for cryptococcal antigen screening and related terms in published journal articles dating up to December 2019. Conference abstracts, publicly available guidelines, and project descriptions were also incorporated. EXPERT OPINION: As we learn more about the risks of cryptococcal antigenemia, it has become clear that the current management paradigm is inadequate. More intensive investigation and management are required to prevent the development of cryptococcal meningitis and reduce mortality associated with cryptococcal antigenemia.


Greene G, Lawrence DS, Jordan A, Chiller T, Jarvis JN




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Epidemiology
  • Population(s)
    • General HIV+ population
    • General HIV- population
  • Co-infections
    • Other


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