Purpose of review
Central nervous system (CNS) infections associated with HIV remain significant contributors to morbidity and mortality, particularly among people living with HIV (PLWH) in resource-limited settings worldwide. In this review, we discuss several recent important scientific discoveries in the prevention, diagnosis, and management around two of the major causes of CNS opportunistic infections-tuberculous meningitis (TBM) and cryptococcal meningitis including immune reconstitution syndrome (IRIS) associated with cryptococcal meningitis. We also discuss the CNS as a possible viral reservoir, highlighting Cerebrospinal fluid viral escape.
CNS infections in HIV-positive people in sub-Saharan Africa contribute to 15–25% of AIDS-related deaths. Morbidity and mortality in those is associated with delays in HIV diagnosis, lack of availability for antimicrobial treatment, and risk of CNS IRIS. The CNS may serve as a reservoir for replication, though it is unclear whether this can impact peripheral immunosuppression.
Significant diagnostic and treatment advances for TBM and cryptococcal meningitis have yet to impact overall morbidity and mortality according to recent data. Lack of early diagnosis and treatment initiation, and also maintenance on combined antiretroviral treatment are the main drivers of the ongoing burden of CNS opportunistic infections. The CNS as a viral reservoir has major potential implications for HIV eradication strategies, and also control of CNS opportunistic infections.