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Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia (PCP)

Pneumocystis jiroveci (noo-moh-SISS-tiss yee-row-VET-zee) pneumonia, formerly called pneumocystitis carinii pneumonia or PCP, is a fungal infection that hurts your lungs. It is the most common, serious infection for people with AIDS in the United States. When a person with HIV gets PCP, it means the person has AIDS. Symptoms are fever, cough, or trouble breathing. People with PCP may die if it's not treated quickly. See your doctor right away if you have these symptoms.

Most scientists believe PCP is spread in the air, but they don't know if it lives in the soil or someplace else. Since it is difficult to prevent, you can take drugs so you don't get PCP.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend taking specific medicine to prevent PCP if your CD4 cell count falls below 200. You may also take it if:

  • You have certain symptoms, such as having a temperature above 100 degrees Fahrenheit that lasts for two weeks or longer.
  • You get a fungal infection in the mouth or throat (thrush).

Ask your doctor whether you should take medicine to prevent PCP.

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Content last updated: July 01, 2011.

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