CMV retinitis screening and treatment in a resource-poor setting: Three-year experience from a primary care HIV/AIDS programme in Myanmar

Nini Tun, Nikolas London, Moe Kyaw, Frank Smithuis, Nathan Ford, Todd Margolis, W. Lawrence Drew, Susan Lewallen, David Heiden

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27 Scopus citations


Background: Cytomegalovirus retinitis is a neglected disease in resource-poor settings, in part because of the perceived complexity of care and because ophthalmologists are rarely accessible. In this paper, we describe a pilot programme of CMV retinitis management by non-ophthalmologists. The programme consists of systematic screening of all high-risk patients (CD4 <100 cells/mm3) by AIDS clinicians using indirect ophthalmoscopy, and treatment of all patients with active retinitis by intravitreal injection of ganciclovir. Prior to this programme, CMV retinitis was not routinely examined for, or treated, in Myanmar. Methods. This is a retrospective descriptive study. Between November 2006 and July 2009, 17 primary care AIDS clinicians were trained in indirect ophthalmoscopy and diagnosis of CMV retinitis; eight were also trained in intravitreal injection. Evaluation of training by a variety of methods documented high clinical competence. Systematic screening of all high-risk patients (CD4 <100 cells/mm3) was carried out at five separate AIDS clinics throughout Myanmar. Results: A total of 891 new patients (1782 eyes) were screened in the primary area (Yangon); the majority of patients were male (64.3%), median age was 32 years, and median CD4 cell count was 38 cells/mm3. CMV retinitis was diagnosed in 24% (211/891) of these patients. Bilateral disease was present in 36% of patients. Patients with active retinitis were treated with weekly intravitreal injection of ganciclovir, with patients typically receiving five to seven injections per eye. A total of 1296 injections were administered. Conclusions: A strategy of management of CMV retinitis at the primary care level is feasible in resource-poor settings. With appropriate training and support, CMV retinitis can be diagnosed and treated by AIDS clinicians (non-ophthalmologists), just like other major opportunistic infections.

Original languageEnglish
Article number41
JournalJournal of the International AIDS Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2011


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