You Can Prevent Toxo
June 21, 2007
Toxoplasmosis [tox-o-plaz-MO-sis], or "toxo," is a common infection among people with HIV and AIDS. It usually affects the central nervous system, including the brain. Many people infected with toxo have no symptoms. However, people with HIV or AIDS often get ill from toxo infection.
The most common symptoms of toxo-related illness are headache, confusion, and fever. Other symptoms include seizures, poor coordination, and nausea.
Toxo can be spread in two ways: 1) by eating undercooked meat; and 2) through contact with infected cat stool.
When someone is infected with toxo, it hides in inactive tissue eggs (or cysts), usually in the brain or muscles. These infections stay inactive as long as the infected person's immune system is strong. However, when HIV weakens the immune system, toxo can cause illness. In the United States, from 15 percent to 40 percent of people with HIV infection have been infected with toxo and probably have tissue cysts. Up to half of all persons with AIDS who have toxo infection and a CD4 count under 100 get toxo-related illness.
The most important thing you can do is to get the best care you can for your HIV infection. Take your antiretroviral medicine just the way your doctor tells you to. If you get sick from your medicine, call your doctor for advice. Toxo most affects HIV-infected people whose CD4 counts are below100. If you were not tested for toxo when you were tested for HIV, ask your doctor to test you for toxo at your next appointment.
If you have toxo infection and your CD4 count falls below 100, your doctor will prescribe TMP-SMX to prevent illness. TMP-SMX is also used to prevent Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP). If you can't take TMP-SMX, other drugs are available for toxo and PCP.
Yes. If you have had toxo-related illness, you will need to take drugs for the rest of your life to prevent getting it again.
Free referrals and information:
CDC-INFO 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636) TTY: 1-888-232-6348 In English, en Espa?ol 24 Hours/Day
CDC National Prevention Information Network
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CDC Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention Internet address: www.cdc.gov/hiv/
Additional brochures in the Opportunisitic Infections Series:
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.