Issue brief |

Cytomegalovirus Retinitis: The neglected disease of the AIDS pandemic

In this briefing document, MSF calls for action at both international and national levels to address current shortcomings in the diagnosis and treatment of cytomegalovirus retinitis (CMVR).

CMVR is a preventable disease caused by a virus (cytomegalovirus or CMV) that attacks the retina of the eye in patients with suppressed immune systems, specifically those infected with HIV. If untreated, the disease can lead to total and irreversible blindness.

With early detection and treatment of underlying HIV, CMVR can be entirely prevented. However many people in developing countries – particularly those with advanced HIV infection – continue to go undiagnosed and untreated and lose their sight to this disease. This tragic and unnecessary loss of vision is the result of the absence of evidence-based international and national treatment guidelines for CMV, lack of training in diagnostic techniques and poor access to treatment options.