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Pneumocystis jiroveci
Pneumonia (PCP) or Pneumocystosis

Symptoms of PCP usually develop over the course of a few weeks or months. The main symptoms of PCP are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Weakness

  • Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMZ, Bactrim, Septra, Cotrim)-available in pill and liquid forms
  • Dapsone plus trimethoprim
  • Primaquine plus clindamycin
  • Atovaquone
  • Pentamidine (given by IV)
  • Trimetrexate plus folinic acid
  • Corticosteroids: given in severe cases when blood oxygen pressure falls below a certain level

Preventive measures

PCP can be prevented. If you are at risk for PCP, your doctor may recommend that you take medicine to prevent getting it. In general, for those with HIV infection, preventing PCP with medication is recommended if your CD4 cell count falls below 200. Other conditions, like having a temperature above 100˚F that lasts for more than two weeks, or getting a fungal infection in your mouth or throat, are reasons to start preventive therapy.

Some of the same drugs used to treat an infection can be taken regularly to prevent the infection:

  • Dapsone
  • Atovaquone
  • Pentamidine aerosol

If you get PCP once, you are more likely to get it again. Each time you get it, it causes damage to your lungs. Your body can suffer side effects from the drugs.

You may have heard of a pneumonia vaccine. This only protects you from a different kind of pneumonia. It will not prevent you from getting PCP. Quitting smoking can also help you avoid getting PCP.

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