Purpose of This Guideline
Date of current publication: April 28, 2021
Lead author: James C. M. Brust, MD
Writing group: Joseph P. McGowan, MD, FACP, FIDSA; Steven M. Fine, MD, PhD; Samuel T. Merrick, MD; Asa E. Radix, MD, MPH, PhD, FACP, AAHIVS; Rona M. Vail, MD; Lyn C. Stevens, MS, NP, ACRN; Christopher J. Hoffmann, MD, MPH; Charles J. Gonzalez, MD
Committee: Medical Care Criteria Committee
Date of original publication: June 30, 2017
This guideline was developed by the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute (NYSDOH AI) for primary care providers and other practitioners who manage immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS) in patients with HIV. The guideline aims to achieve the following goals:
- Raise awareness among healthcare providers about IRIS, including its clinical presentation.
- Provide treatment recommendations for IRIS.
- Encourage clinicians to seek the assistance of an experienced HIV care provider when managing IRIS.
- Emphasize that antiretroviral therapy (ART) should not be interrupted in patients with IRIS except in life-threatening cases.
The NYSDOH AI is publishing this guideline at a critical time: 1) Initiation of ART is now recommended for all patients diagnosed with HIV; 2) Identifying and linking patients with HIV infection to care and treatment that achieves optimal virologic suppression are crucial to the success of New York State’s Ending the Epidemic initiative; and 3) The ability of primary care providers and other clinicians in New York State to manage IRIS is key to the successful treatment of patients with HIV.
Although ART dramatically reduces HIV-associated mortality and improves patient outcomes, initiation of or a change in ART introduces the potential for IRIS. This early complication is seen most often within the first 8 weeks of therapy in patients with advanced HIV disease. Mild IRIS resolves over time in most patients, and symptomatic treatment is often sufficient. Severe IRIS may threaten a patient’s functional status or cause permanent disability or death. But interrupting combination ART in a patient with IRIS may lead to acquisition of new opportunistic infections, recurrence of IRIS when therapy is later restarted, and possible HIV-drug resistance.
This guideline, therefore, addresses management of IRIS to avoid ART interruption except in life-threatening cases. Key recommendations cover the following:
- Timing of ART initiation relative to timing of treatment for opportunistic infections
- When to consult an experienced HIV care provider
- Diagnosis of IRIS
- Management and treatment of mild and severe IRIS
Note on “experienced” and “expert” HIV care providers: Throughout this guideline, when reference is made to “experienced HIV care provider” or “expert HIV care provider,” those terms are referring to the following 2017 NYSDOH AI definitions:
- Experienced HIV care provider: Practitioners who have been accorded HIV Experienced Provider status by the American Academy of HIV Medicine or have met the HIV Medicine Association’s definition of an experienced provider are eligible for designation as an HIV Experienced Provider in New York State. Nurse practitioners and licensed midwives who provide clinical care to individuals with HIV in collaboration with a physician may be considered HIV Experienced Providers as long as all other practice agreements are met (8 NYCRR 79-5:1; 10 NYCRR 85.36; 8 NYCRR 139-6900). Physician assistants who provide clinical care to individuals with HIV under the supervision of an HIV Specialist physician may also be considered HIV Experienced Providers (10 NYCRR 94.2)
- Expert HIV care provider: A provider with extensive experience in the management of complex patients with HIV.
Manifestations of IRIS
The goal of antiretroviral therapy (ART) in individuals with HIV is immune reconstitution, which may also produce the manifestation of immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS). IRIS, which is also known as immune restoration disease, refers to a disease- or pathogen-specific inflammatory response that may be triggered after ART initiation in treatment-naive patients, after re-initiation of ART, or after a change to a more effective ART regimen in patients who fail to achieve viral suppression. After a patient starts ART, IRIS may manifest as a worsening of previously diagnosed disease, termed paradoxical IRIS, or as the appearance of a previously undiagnosed disease, termed unmasking IRIS.
IRIS is usually accompanied by an increase in CD4 count and/or a rapid decrease in viral load. Although most cases of IRIS occur in patients who have low CD4 counts and high viral loads at the time of ART initiation, IRIS can occur at any CD4 count Breton, et al. 2004; Shelburne(a), et al. 2005; Shelburne(b), et al. 2005; Müller, et al. 2010; Novak, et al. 2012. It usually presents within the first 4 to 8 weeks after ART initiation but has occurred many weeks later and in sequestered sites, such as bone McComsey, et al. 2012.
Development and Pathogenesis of IRIS
IRIS often presents within the first 4 to 8 weeks after initiation of or a change in ART as mild to moderate disease or symptoms; life-threatening cases are rare Müller, et al. 2010. Although most cases of IRIS occur in patients who, at the time of ART initiation, have a low CD4 count, particularly below 50 cells/mm3, and a high viral load (>100,000 copies/mL) Breton, et al. 2004; Shelburne(a), et al. 2005; Shelburne(b), et al. 2005; Müller, et al. 2010; Novak, et al. 2012, specific changes in these markers are not required for the diagnosis of IRIS. For example, IRIS may occur without a significant increase in the absolute CD4 count, suggesting that measurements obtained from the peripheral blood may not reflect the number of CD4 cells present at the site of an opportunistic infection (OI) Haddow(b), et al. 2010. Some studies have found a higher incidence of IRIS in patients treated with regimens containing integrase strand transfer inhibitors. This may be related to the rapid drop in viral load seen in patients treated with these agents Dutertre, et al. 2017; Psichogiou, et al. 2017; Wijting, et al. 2019.
Although understanding of the pathogenesis of IRIS, including the inflammatory role of T-regulatory cells and cytokine imbalances Shankar, et al. 2008; Boulware(a), et al. 2010; Haddow(a), et al. 2010, remains largely speculative, inflammatory reactions to many pathogens have been described, including mycobacteria, fungi, viruses, and bacteria (see Table 2: Major and Minor Presentations of IRIS). IRIS that involves worsening symptoms of some malignancies, including Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) Feller, et al. 2008, and autoimmune phenomena, such as sarcoid Foulon, et al. 2004, also have been documented. IRIS may be more severe in patients with a higher burden of an OI organism, suggesting that antigen load may play a role in pathogenesis Shelburne(a), et al. 2005.
“Paradoxical IRIS” describes the worsening of previously diagnosed disease after ART is initiated. Epidemiologic data regarding paradoxical IRIS are variable and depend largely on the CD4 count and the prevalence and types of OI present at the time of ART initiation. A review and meta-analysis of 54 cohort studies from 22 countries that included 13,903 patients initiating ART found that, overall, 13% of patients developed IRIS Müller, et al. 2010. In 22 studies (41%) that reported participants’ CD4 counts at the start of therapy, CD4 counts were low overall, with a median of 57 cells/mm3 (range, 17 to 174 cells/mm3), and occurrences of IRIS were significantly higher among patients with CD4 counts <50 cells/mm3. Though rates of IRIS were highest in patients with cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis (37.7%), it was also observed in patients with cryptococcal meningitis (19.5%), progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (16.7%), tuberculosis (TB) (15.7%), herpes zoster (12.2%), and KS (6.4%). As noted in the analysis, the higher occurrences of IRIS associated with CMV retinitis, in particular, were not surprising because this condition most often occurs at CD4 counts <50 cells/mm3. Significant heterogeneity between studies was also noted, in part, because of non-standardized diagnostic criteria and difficulty in distinguishing IRIS from the progression of OIs.
In the United States, the prospective AIDS Clinical Trials Group study A5164 reported IRIS in 7.6% of patients Grant, et al. 2010, and another large multisite U.S. prospective cohort reported an occurrence of 10.6% Novak, et al. 2012.
However, concurrent steroid treatment in some individuals and the studies’ inclusion of low numbers of patients with the OIs that are most commonly associated with IRIS may obscure the true incidence. Retrospective studies have reported a higher occurrence, with IRIS reported in 63% of patients with a history of CMV retinitis Karavellas, et al. 1999 and in 30% to 34% of those with previously diagnosed cryptococcal infection Shelburne(a), et al. 2005; Shelburne(b), et al. 2005. Other retrospective studies have reported IRIS in 30% and 31% of patients with TB and Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC), respectively Shelburne(b), et al. 2005. However, the studies were conducted in the era before early treatment, when ART was more often initiated in patients with low CD4 counts, and, as retrospective studies, are more likely to overestimate the incidence of IRIS.
“Unmasking IRIS” describes the appearance of previously undiagnosed disease after ART is initiated. Data on unmasking IRIS are limited primarily to case reports. A re-analysis of cohort data from 6 European countries and the United States found a significantly increased risk of MAC-IRIS up to 3 months after ART initiation. A slight but statistically nonsignificant increase of IRIS-associated TB, CMV retinitis, herpes simplex virus, KS, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma was reported among patients without HIV who had a median CD4 count of 279 cells/mm3 at the time of ART initiation. The epidemiologic patterns for MAC and TB were most consistent with unmasking IRIS Lodi, et al. 2014. In a French study of 47 patients taking ART at the time of TB diagnosis, 11 patients were diagnosed with unmasking TB-IRIS; identified risk factors for unmasking TB-IRIS included African origin, higher baseline RNA, and a strong response to ART Valin, et al. 2010.
IRIS is associated with an increased risk of death, with a reported overall mortality rate of 4.5% Müller, et al. 2010; Novak, et al. 2012. However, mortality rates depend on the associated OI, access to treatment, diagnostic criteria, degree of immunosuppression, and geography. In general, the highest mortality rates (13% to 75%) have been reported among patients with IRIS affecting the central nervous system Müller, et al. 2010; Bahr, et al. 2013.
Timing of ART Initiation in Patients with Recent OIs and Prevention of IRIS
Abbreviations: ART, antiretroviral therapy; CMV, cytomegalovirus; HBV, hepatitis B virus; HCV, hepatitis C virus; IRIS, immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome; OI, opportunistic infection; TB, tuberculosis.
Because ART is key to the recovery of immune function, the benefits of early ART initiation outweigh the risks of IRIS under most circumstances Grant, et al. 2010; Lodi, et al. 2014. Clinicians should strongly recommend that patients being treated for any of the following active infections initiate ART within 2 weeks of starting OI treatment or as soon as the patient is clinically stable on OI therapy and the potential for drug-drug interactions has been minimized:
- Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy
- Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS)
- Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia—formerly known as Pneumocystis carinii
- HBV infection
- HCV infection
- Any other serious bacterial infection
The optimal timing for ART initiation is not well established for other OIs, including TB meningitis, extrapulmonary TB, CMV retinitis, and cryptococcal meningitis, as described below. Clinicians should consult with a care provider experienced in the management of ART in patients with these infections.
|Abbreviations: ART, antiretroviral therapy; OI, opportunistic infection; TB, tuberculosis.|
|Table 1: Summary of Recommendations Regarding Timing of ART Initiation|
|Opportunistic Infection||Timing of ART Initiation After Starting OI Treatments|
||Within 2 weeks of starting treatment for an OI or as soon as the patient is clinically stable.|
|Extrapulmonary TB||Optimal timing has not been established; consult with an experienced HIV care provider.|
|TB meningitis||Optimal timing has not been established; consult with an experienced HIV care provider.|
|Cryptococcal infection other than meningitis||
Prevention of complications associated with IRIS involves careful monitoring, particularly in patients with low CD4 counts and past or current history of co-infections. After initiating ART in patients at the highest risk for IRIS, including those with CD4 counts <100 cells/mm3 or known concomitant OIs, clinicians should be vigilant for signs and symptoms of IRIS, which are described in more detail in the guideline section Presentation and Diagnosis of IRIS. These patients should be counseled about the risk of developing IRIS at the time of ART initiation. To promote trust in the treatment plan and adherence to ART, patients should be informed that starting ART could lead to an initial worsening of OI symptoms or the appearance of a previously undiagnosed OI (e.g., herpes zoster).
Abbreviations: ART, antiretroviral therapy; TB, tuberculosis.
Immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS) has been described in 8% to 51% of patients with HIV and TB after initiation of ART Meintjes, et al. 2008; Haddow(b), et al. 2010; Narendran, et al. 2013 with a reported overall mortality rate of 2% Namale, et al. 2015. In determining the timing of ART initiation in patients with HIV/TB co-infection, the risk of TB-IRIS and the overlapping toxicity, potential drug-drug interactions, and adherence challenges of multidrug therapy for HIV and TB warrant careful consideration.
Several studies have assessed the optimal timing of ART initiation during treatment for pulmonary TB Abdool Karim, et al. 2010; Blanc, et al. 2011; Havlir, et al. 2011; Manosuthi, et al. 2012; Sinha, et al. 2012; Mfinanga, et al. 2014; Amogne, et al. 2015. Results of a recent meta-analysis comparing ART initiation at 1 to 4 weeks after starting TB treatment with ART initiation at 8 to 12 weeks after starting TB treatment indicate that early ART reduced overall mortality. However, the decrease was statistically significant only in the subgroup of patients with CD4 counts <50 cells/mm3. Early ART doubled the incidence of TB-IRIS irrespective of CD4 count. The authors concluded that although early ART improves survival for patients with low CD4 counts, not enough evidence is available to support or refute a survival benefit from early ART in patients with pulmonary TB who have CD4 counts >50 cells/mm3. Further studies are needed to more definitively determine the CD4 count threshold below which the mortality benefit supports early initiation of ART Uthman, et al. 2015.
Two trials compared ART initiation during TB treatment with deferral until after completion of TB treatment. The SAPIT trial (n = 642) in South Africa Abdool Karim, et al. 2010, which evaluated patients with smear-positive TB, was stopped early because the mortality rate in the group that initiated ART during TB treatment was 56% lower than in the deferred group. The survival benefit of initiating ART before completing TB treatment was observed in all ranges of CD4 counts but was highest in patients with CD4 counts <50 cells/mm3. Although the incidence of IRIS was much higher in patients who initiated ART early, it was mostly mild and was outweighed by the other benefits of early treatment. The subsequent TB- HAART trial (n = 1,675), conducted in South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia Mfinanga, et al. 2014, compared initiation of ART after 2 weeks of TB treatment with ART initiation deferred until after completion of 6 months of TB treatment in patients with CD4 counts >220 cells/mm3. More grade 3 and 4 adverse events were reported among those with early ART initiation, with no difference in mortality or IRIS incidence between early and deferred ART.
Although early ART increases the risk of TB-associated IRIS, this risk should be weighed against the survival benefit of early HIV treatment given a patient’s CD4 count. The benefits of early ART initiation in patients with active TB and very low CD4 counts (<50 cells/mm3) likely outweigh the risks for morbidity associated with TB-IRIS Lawn, et al. 2007; Battegay, et al. 2008. To decrease the risk of IRIS, initiation of ART may be safely delayed up to 12 weeks after starting TB therapy in patients with CD4 counts of ≥50 cells/mm3. Careful monitoring for IRIS, and timely treatment if it occurs, may significantly reduce morbidity associated with TB-IRIS; it may also ensure that other risks associated with severe immunosuppression (CD4 counts <50 cells/mm3) are managed effectively with ART.
A study of 240 patients enrolled in the PredART trial demonstrated that prednisone initiated around the time of ART initiation reduced the risk of IRIS in patients receiving TB treatment Meintjes, et al. 2018. ART-naive adults with HIV infection, CD4 counts <100 cells/mm3, who were on confirmed treatment for TB were randomized to receive either 40 mg per day of prednisone for 2 weeks followed by 20 mg per day of prednisone for 2 weeks or placebo. The prednisone and ART were initiated on the same day and were initiated within 30 days of the start of TB treatment. Use of corticosteroids was allowed to treat IRIS if it developed. Patients with rifampin resistance, central nervous system TB, Karposi’s sarcoma, hepatitis B surface antigen positive, or poor adherence were excluded from the study. In patients receiving prednisone, TB-IRIS was reduced by 30% (47% vs 33%; RR 0.7, p 0.03) and subsequent use of corticosteroids to treat IRIS was reduced by 53% (28% vs 13%; RR 0.47). Grade 3 adverse events were reduced from 45% to 28% (p 0.01), and fewer hospitalizations occurred in patients who received prednisone. The prednisone was well tolerated, and there were no additional infections or malignancies in patients receiving prednisone compared with those receiving placebo.
TB Meningitis and Extrapulmonary TB
TB Meningitis or Extrapulmonary TB
Abbreviations: ART, antiretroviral therapy; TB, tuberculosis.
Compared with non-central nervous system-related diseases, immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS)-associated TB meningitis has a higher mortality rate Marais, et al. 2013. The optimal timing of ART initiation in patients treated for TB meningitis or extrapulmonary TB remains unclear. In a randomized controlled trial, initiation of ART within 7 days was not associated with increased survival for patients with TB meningitis compared with delaying treatment for 2 months. Although the incidence of severe (grade 3 and 4) adverse events was similar in the 2 groups, early initiation of ART was associated with a higher incidence of the most severe (grade 4) adverse events Török, et al. 2011. A 2- to 9-fold increased risk of development of IRIS has been described for patients with extrapulmonary TB after ART initiation Namale, et al. 2015; however, insufficient data are available to guide timing of ART initiation.
Abbreviations: ART, antiretroviral therapy; IRIS, immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome.
With rapid immune reconstitution in patients with cryptococcal meningitis, there is a risk of increased inflammatory response in the meninges that can lead to paradoxical worsening of the symptoms and, sometimes, death. Paradoxical IRIS was noted in 6% to 45% of patients with cryptococcal meningitis following ART initiation Longley, et al. 2013. Most cases occurred within the first 1 to 2 months, but some occurred 6 to 9 months later. The presentation of cryptococcal IRIS may mimic aseptic meningitis and can be difficult to distinguish from progression of cryptococcal disease associated with treatment failure Bicanic, et al. 2009; Boulware(b), et al. 2010; Haddow(a), et al. 2010.
The optimal timing of ART initiation in patients with cryptococcal meningitis is controversial, with inconclusive study results among the 4 trials conducted to date. In 2 studies (each with fewer than 40 participants with cryptococcal meningitis), initiation of ART within 2 weeks of diagnosis was observed to be safe but without significant improvement in survival Zolopa, et al. 2009; Bisson, et al. 2013. In contrast, 2 clinical trials were stopped early because of a high mortality rate in the early ART arm Makadzange, et al. 2010; Boulware, et al. 2014. In a study from Zimbabwe of 54 patients with cryptococcal meningitis, administration of ART within 72 hours of diagnosis resulted in higher mortality than when ART was deferred for 10 or more weeks Makadzange, et al. 2010. The more recent and larger COAT trial involving 177 ART-naive patients with HIV and cryptococcal meningitis in Uganda and South Africa was also stopped early because of a 15% higher mortality in the group randomized to ART initiation within 2 weeks compared with delaying treatment by at least 5 weeks Boulware, et al. 2014. However, interpretation of results is limited because neither trial included flucytosine in the cryptococcal treatment regimen Scriven, et al. 2015.
Until further studies are available to definitively determine the optimal time for ART initiation for patients with cryptococcal meningitis, treatment should be delayed for at least 2 weeks (after completion of antifungal therapy induction phase) and possibly for up to 10 weeks (after completion of both induction and consolidation phases of antifungal therapy), particularly in those with increased intracranial pressure or low cerebral spinal fluid white blood cell counts. If ART is started before 10 weeks, clinicians should be vigilant for signs and symptoms of IRIS and aggressively manage any complications. The optimal timing for initiation of ART for other forms of cryptococcosis is also unclear; it is recommended to delay ART initiation for at least 2 weeks after starting antifungal therapy DHHS 2021.
Abbreviations: ART, antiretroviral therapy; CMV, cytomegalovirus; IRIS, immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome.
Immediate initiation of ART is not recommended based on the results of a controlled study that reported a lower prevalence and severity of immune recovery uveitis in patients with deferred initiation of ART Ortega-Larrocea, et al. 2005. The optimal timing for initiation of ART in patients treated for CMV retinitis has not been definitively established. The overall incidence of CMV-IRIS has declined to an estimated 2.7 to 3.6 per 100 person-years in recent years Jabs, et al. 2010; Jabs, et al. 2015, and the risk of IRIS should be weighed against the risk of developing other OIs due to delay in ART initiation.
To avoid the possible devastating effects of CMV-IRIS, ART should not be started immediately in patients with known or strongly suspected CMV. All patients with HIV who have CD4 counts <100 cells/mm3 who do not have known or strongly suspected CMV should be screened for signs of CMV by dilated ophthalmologic examination as soon as possible after initiation of ART. If signs of CMV are seen on dilated exam, clinicians should consult with an experienced HIV care provider to determine if ART must be temporarily paused. In mild cases, it may be appropriate to continue ART while treating the CMV, but such patients must be followed closely by an ophthalmologist with experience in managing CMV retinitis.
Even if receiving treatment, patients with a history of CMV retinitis should receive a dilated ophthalmologic examination every 3 months for the first year after initiation of ART and immediately if there is a change in visual acuity or development of floaters. Cases of CMV-IRIS myelopathy that respond to steroids have been reported, as have cases of CMV-IRIS colitis Acosta, et al. 2008; von Both, et al. 2008. For more information, see DHHS: Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in Adults and Adolescents with HIV > Cytomegalovirus Disease.
Presentation and Diagnosis of IRIS
Abbreviations: ART, antiretroviral therapy; IRIS, immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome.
Table 2, below, describes major and minor clinical presentations of IRIS. Proposed case definitions do not provide clear consensus on the many manifestations of IRIS French, et al. 2004; Robertson, et al. 2006; Shelburne, et al. 2006; Meintjes, et al. 2008; Bicanic, et al. 2009; Haddow(a), et al. 2010; Haddow(b), et al. 2010. Common features are clinical deterioration after ART initiation and localized tissue inflammation, with or without a systemic inflammatory response Walker, et al. 2015, but the presentation of IRIS varies depending on the underlying opportunistic infection (OI) or illness. The majority of IRIS cases occur within 4 to 8 weeks after initiation of or a change in ART Breton, et al. 2004; Shelburne(a), et al. 2005; Novak, et al. 2012. However, cases have been reported as early as 3 days or as late as several months, or, rarely, several years, after ART initiation Rambeloarisoa, et al. 2002; Lortholary, et al. 2005; Shelburne(b), et al. 2005; Haddow(b), et al. 2010; Valin, et al. 2010; Novak, et al. 2012; Letang, et al. 2013. Late manifestations of IRIS (>7 months) may be atypical, such as osteomyelitis resulting from Mycobacterium avium complex Aberg, et al. 2002.
A definitive diagnostic test is not available for IRIS; therefore, diagnosis is based largely on clinical judgment, which may be challenged by the broad array of IRIS signs and symptoms and the presence of multiple OIs. A rise in CD4 count is often present in IRIS cases but is not a required criterion for diagnosis Robertson, et al. 2006; Meintjes, et al. 2008; Haddow(a), et al. 2010; Haddow(b), et al. 2010; Walker, et al. 2015; therefore, absence of an increase in absolute CD4 count should not exclude the possibility of IRIS during a paradoxical response to treatment of an OI.
In patients who were responding favorably to OI treatment prior to ART initiation, but who worsen after, the differential diagnosis includes OI treatment toxicity, OI drug resistance, poor OI treatment adherence, or development of a new OI. Development of a new OI after ART initiation of ART may be attributable to unmasking IRIS or to the effects of persistent immune compromise Walker, et al. 2015.
|Abbreviations: ART, antiretroviral therapy; IRIS, immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome; MRI, magnetic resonance imaging.|
|Table 2: Major and Minor Presentations of IRIS|
|Underlying Opportunistic Infection||IRIS Signs/Symptoms|
|Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC)||
|Cryptococcal meningitis||Usually presents as worsening of meningitis symptoms Rambeloarisoa, et al. 2002; Gray, et al. 2005; Lawn(b), et al. 2005; Lortholary, et al. 2005; Shelburne(a), et al. 2005; Kambugu, et al. 2008, including possible rapid hearing and/or vision loss, ataxia, and/or elevated intracranial pressure.|
|Cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis||
|Hepatitis B or C virus||
|Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML)||PML lesions may be unmasked or worsen and could appear as new or worsening focal neurologic deficits or lesions on MRI Safdar, et al. 2002; Gray, et al. 2005; Tan, et al. 2009.|
|Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS)||
|Cerebral toxoplasmosis||May present as a cerebral abscess (also known as toxoplasmosis encephalitis) or, rarely, diffuse encephalitis or chorioretinitis Bowen, et al. 2016.|
|Herpes simplex virus (HSV) and varicella zoster virus (VZV)||
|Nonspecific dermatologic complications||A number of dermatologic manifestations, such as folliculitis and oral and genital warts, may appear or worsen during immune reconstitution.|
Management and Treatment of IRIS
Management and Treatment
Abbreviations: ART, antiretroviral therapy; CMV, cytomegalovirus; IRIS, immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome; KS, Kaposi’s sarcoma; OI, opportunistic infection; TB, tuberculosis.
Whenever IRIS is suspected, initial efforts should focus on diagnosing and treating the underlying OI. IRIS resolves over time in most patients, and if not severe, symptomatic treatment is often sufficient.
When minor IRIS presentations occur, clinicians can reassure patients that symptoms are an indication of immune reconstitution rather than progression of HIV disease and will resolve with standard treatment. In addition to standard therapy for the underlying OI to reduce pathogen load, the following treatments may alleviate inflammation in patients with mild IRIS:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents for discomfort associated with mild inflammation or fevers
- Drainage of abscesses
- Excision of inflamed and painful lymph nodes
- Inhaled steroids for bronchospasm or cough associated with mild pulmonary inflammation
Severe IRIS may threaten a patient’s functional status or may cause permanent disability. Examples of this are a decline in pulmonary capacity from TB or Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) infection, neurologic complications from cryptococcal infection, or vision loss from CMV retinitis infection.
Corticosteroid therapy to suppress inflammatory response is the most commonly used intervention in cases of severe IRIS. Studies to determine the effectiveness of corticosteroid treatment are limited. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial demonstrated benefits of corticosteroids for paradoxical TB-IRIS Meintjes, et al. 2010, and a study of patients with MAC-IRIS (n = 9) demonstrated clinical response to prednisone Phillips, et al. 2005. No trials have compared different dosing regimens of corticosteroids, but this Committee recommends 1 to 2 mg/kg prednisone, or the equivalent, for 1 to 2 weeks, followed by a period of tapering dose that is individualized. If a flare of symptoms occurs during or at the end of the steroid taper, the dose may be increased and the taper slowed, and the patient should be assessed for possible disease progression due to failure of treatment.
The risks of corticosteroid therapy should be weighed against the severity of the IRIS manifestations and the potential benefits, particularly given the high prevalence of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and mental health disorders among patients with HIV. Risks of corticosteroid therapy include the following:
- Mental status changes
- Avascular necrosis
- Worsening of an existing infection
- Predisposition to a new infection
Except in the most severe cases, ART should not be interrupted in patients with IRIS. Discontinuation of ART can be considered in life-threatening cases in which corticosteroids did not result in improvement, usually associated with central nervous system (CNS)-IRIS. Risks of stopping combination ART include acquisition of new OIs and recurrence of IRIS when therapy is later restarted. HIV drug resistance may also be a theoretical concern. The decision to stop ART should be made in consultation with an experienced HIV care provider if possible.
In cases of cryptococcal-IRIS with worsening meningitis symptoms, including cranial nerve defects, hearing, or vision changes, therapeutic lumbar puncture can be used to lower intracranial pressure. Corticosteroids are not recommended for treatment of cryptococcal meningitis in patients with HIV. A trial of treatment of HIV-associated cryptococcal meningitis with dexamethasone was stopped because of the high incidence of adverse events and disability observed in the treatment arm compared with placebo Beardsley, et al. 2016.
Corticosteroids are associated with increased risk of development of new KS or worsening of pre-existing disease among patients with HIV Gill, et al. 1989; Elliott, et al. 2004; Volkow, et al. 2008. Treatment of CMV vitritis with intraocular steroids has been described Schrier, et al. 2006 but has not been useful in uveitis.
There are limited case reports of improvement in clinical symptoms following treatment with thalidomide and other immunomodulators (pentoxifylline, chloroquine, TNF-a inhibitors, leukotriene antagonists) in patients with severe disease Hardwick, et al. 2006; Marais, et al. 2009; Brunel, et al. 2012; Meintjes, et al. 2012; Fourcade, et al. 2014. However, data are insufficient to recommend the use of these alternative therapies.
The CCR5 inhibitor maraviroc has been used for treatment of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy-associated IRIS because direct treatment for JC virus is not available to lower the pathogen burden and treatment with corticosteroids may dampen the immune response. However, case reports indicate mixed success Martin-Blondel, et al. 2009; Giacomini, et al. 2014; Rodríguez, et al. 2014, and a recent randomized, placebo-controlled trial found that maraviroc was not effective for prevention of IRIS in patients starting ART with CD4 count <100 cells/mm3 and HIV RNA >1,000 copies/mL Sierra-Madero, et al. 2014.
For further OI-specific guidance on management of IRIS, see DHHS: Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in Adults and Adolescents with HIV McComsey, et al. 2012.
|ALL RECOMMENDATIONS: MANAGEMENT OF IRIS|
TB Meningitis or Extrapulmonary TB
Management and Treatment
Abbreviations: ART, antiretroviral therapy; CMV, cytomegalovirus; HBV, hepatitis B virus; HCV, hepatitis C virus; IRIS, immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome; KS, Kaposi’s sarcoma; OI, opportunistic infection; TB, tuberculosis.
Guideline Information and Updates
|Intended users||Clinicians in New York State who manage immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS) in patients with HIV|
|Last reviewed and updated||August 28, 2022|
|Original publication||June 2017|
Joseph P. McGowan, MD, FACP, FIDSA; Steven M. Fine, MD, PhD; Samuel T. Merrick, MD; Asa E. Radix, MD, MPH, PhD, FACP, AAHIVS; Rona M. Vail, MD; Lyn C. Stevens, MS, NP, ACRN; Christopher J. Hoffmann, MD, MPH
|Developer and funding|
See Guideline Development and Recommendation Ratings Scheme, below.
August 28, 2022
|Guideline Development: New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute Clinical Guidelines Program|
|Program Manager||Clinical Guidelines Program, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases. See Program Leadership and Staff.|
|Mission||To produce and disseminate evidence-based, state-of-the-art clinical practice guidelines that establish uniform standards of care for practitioners who provide prevention or treatment of HIV, viral hepatitis, other sexually transmitted infections, and substance use disorders for adults throughout New York State in the wide array of settings in which those services are delivered.|
|Expert Committees||The NYSDOH AI Medical Director invites and appoints committees of clinical and public health experts from throughout New York State to ensure that the guidelines are practical, immediately applicable, and meet the needs of care providers and stakeholders in all major regions of New York State, all relevant clinical practice settings, key New York State agencies, and community service organizations.|
|Disclosure and Management of Conflicts of Interest||
|Evidence Collection and Review||
|Review and Approval Process||
|Recommendation Ratings Scheme|
|Strength||Quality of Evidence|
|A||Strong||1||Based on published results of at least 1 randomized clinical trial with clinical outcomes or validated laboratory endpoints.|
|B||Moderate||*||Based on either a self-evident conclusion; conclusive, published, in vitro data; or well-established practice that cannot be tested because ethics would preclude a clinical trial.|
|C||Optional||2||Based on published results of at least 1 well-designed, nonrandomized clinical trial or observational cohort study with long-term clinical outcomes.|
|2†||Extrapolated from published results of well-designed studies (including nonrandomized clinical trials) conducted in populations other than those specifically addressed by a recommendation. The source(s) of the extrapolated evidence and the rationale for the extrapolation are provided in the guideline text. One example would be results of studies conducted predominantly in a subpopulation (e.g., one gender) that the committee determines to be generalizable to the population under consideration in the guideline.|
|3||Based on committee expert opinion, with rationale provided in the guideline text.|
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