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The causes of hepatitis are varied and include viruses, bacteria, and protozoa, as well as drugs and toxins (eg, isoniazid, carbon tetrachloride, and ethanol). The clinical symptoms and course of acute viral hepatitis can be similar, regardless of etiology, and determination of a specific cause depends primarily on the use of laboratory tests (Box 1). Hepatitis may be caused by at least six different viruses whose major characteristics are summarized in Table 1. Non-A-non-B (NANB) hepatitis is a term previously used to identify cases of hepatitis not caused by hepatitis A or B.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B infection is found worldwide, with prevalence rates varying markedly among countries. Chronic carriers constitute the main reservoir of infection: in some countries, particularly in the Far East, ~ 5-15% of all persons carry the virus, though most are asymptomatic. Of patients with HIV infection, 10% are chronic carriers of hepatitis B.

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Neurotoxicity secondary to aciclovir is rare and is associated with high plasma concentrations, such as result from impaired renal function. Although the risk is greatest with intravenous administration, neurotoxicity has previously been noted with oral use. Symptoms of neurotoxicity, which usually appear within the first 24-72 hours of administration, include tremor, myoclonus, confusion, lethargy, agitation, hallucinations, dysarthria, asterixis, ataxia, hemiparesthesia, and seizures.

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Torsade de pointes and cardiorespiratory arrest have been reported in a patient with congenital long QT syndrome who took azithromycin. In a prospective study of 47 previously healthy people, there was a modest statistically insignificant prolongation of the QTC interval without clinical consequences after the end of a course of azithromycin 3 g/day for 5 days. Azithromycin can cause ototoxicity. In one study, 8 (17%) of 46 HIV-positive patients had probable (n = 6) or possible (n = 2) ototoxicity with azithromycin.

Treatment of HIV / AIDS

The goal of antiretroviral therapy is to achieve the maximum suppression of HIV replication (HIV RNA level that is less than the lower limit of quantitation). Secondary goals include an increase in CD4 lymphocytes and an improved quality of life. The ultimate goal is decreased morbidity and mortality.

Infectious disorders

Infectious diseases comprise those illnesses that are caused by microorganisms or their products. Clinical manifestations of infection occur only when sufficient tissue injury has been inflicted directly by microbial products (e.g., endotoxins and exotoxins), or indirectly by host responses (e.g., cytokines and hydrolytic enzymes released by polymorphonuclear leukocytes). Despite the extraordinary recent advances that have occurred in therapeutics for infectious diseases, a number of basic principles should be followed to prescribe antimicrobials and vaccines is an optimal manner.

Antimicrobial therapy: general principles

A wide variety of antimicrobial agents is available to treat established infections caused by bacteria, fungi, viruses, or parasites. This section will cover the general principles of antimicrobial therapy and will also include illustrative clinical problems to emphasize proper decision-making in using antimicrobials.

Toxicity of Antimicrobial Therapy

The mechanisms associated with common adverse reactions to antimicrobials include dose-related toxicity that occurs in a certain fraction of patients when a critical plasma concentration or total dose is exceeded, and toxicity that is unpredictable and mediated through allergic or idiosyncratic mechanisms. For example, certain classes of drugs such as the aminoglycosides are associated with dose-related toxicity.