Introduction In the HAART era, Pneumocystis jirovecii Pneumonia (PJP) continues to be a major opportunistic infection. PJ PCR is increasingly available to support the diagnosis of PJP. A ‘low level’ PCR result may represent PJ colonisation or a poor-quality specimen. Upper airway samples such as throat swabs (T/S) are also more likely to yield a negative or low level positive.
Method Retrospective review of all HIV-infected adults with respiratory tract PCR-confirmed PJP and pneumonia over an 18 month period. Demographics, clinical features, management, clinical outcome and laboratory parameters were recorded.
Results 4/12 patients had negative T/S PJP PCR test before the diagnosis was confirmed. The mean cycle threshold (CT) value for throat swabs was 34.04. The mean CT value for sputum was 32.05.
Discussion PJP PCR is a useful investigation. PCR will detect more cases than traditional tests (direct organism visualisation). This leads to earlier PJP treatment and earlier screening for HIV. While there is a trend towards lower CT value results in sputum when compared with throat swabs, any positive PJP result should trigger the offer of a HIV test. Patients with a negative URT PCR and clinical suspicion of PJP should receive empiric treatment and where appropriate proceed to BAL, as per national guidance.
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