MAC (Mycobacterium Avium Complex)

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MAC (Mycobacterium Avium Complex)

What is MAC?

MAC (Mycobacterium avium complex), also called mycobacteriosis, is a serious disease that occurs in people with AIDS, caused by a bacteria (germ).

The MAC germs are in the air, water, land, food and many animals. it is impossible to avoid contact with the germs of the MAC. When a person breathes, eats or drinks, you can get infected. The MAC is probably not transmitted from person to person.

What are the symptoms of MAC?

MAC infects the entire body. Your symptoms may be the same as other illnesses, including: high fever, diarrhea, weight loss, stomach pain, tiredness and anemia (low rate of red blood cells). MAC can also cause blood infections, hepatitis, skin lesions, pneumonia and many other serious illnesses.

MAC occurs in people with AIDS who have a very low number of cells CD4. Many people who get MAC have fewer than 50 CD4 cells / mm3. MAC almost never occurs in people with more than 100 CD4 cells / mm3. The longer a person with AIDS remains with a reduced number of CD4 cells, the greater their chance of contracting MAC. Anemic people (with a small number of red blood cells) are also at high risk of developing MAC. Users of AZT, an anti-HIV, seem to present MAC less often.

How does the doctor know I have MAC?

The doctor usually uses a blood test to see if the patient has the MAC. The blood test is not perfect, sometimes other tests are needed, such as biopsies of the liver or bone marrow and research in the stool. The biopsies are to take a sample of the liver or bone marrow by means of a large needle. They are more painful but more reliable than tests of stool.

MAC How can it be avoided?

Rifabutin, also called micobutina, is an approved drug for the prevention of the MAC. is a pill to be taken daily. Rifabutin causes side effects such as rashes, blood problems, and some people nauseous. Rifabutin help some patients, but does not prevent all the MAC. In each case, you must consult your doctor if rifabutin can be used. In light of the anemic are more likely to MAC, the physician should regularly monitor the number of red blood cells and initiate treatment if it is low.
Other drugs are used to prevent the MAC, but these are not approved for this purpose. These medications include clarithromycin and azithromycin. Both are compressed. There is no information about the possible efficacy of clarithromycin and azithromycin in the prevention of the MAC.

MAC can be treated?

MAC can be treated, but different drugs must be used. MAC treatment can make you feel better, but it is not known whether it can prolong your life. It must include at least two drugs, one of which must be either clarithromycin or azithromycin. The doctor prescribes other drugs to be administered with clarithromycin or azithromycin. Different medications cause different individual reactions, and each has its side effects, some more harmful than others. The most serious of these effects rarely occur. Many people will not experience any side effects. Check the possible side effects in the table below.


Headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.

Headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.

Kidney problems, hearing problems.

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.

Nausea, vomiting, painful tingling in hands and feet, the skin can become orange.

Nausea, vomiting.

Rashes, nausea, blood problems.

More Information: “Guide to Clinical Conduct in STD / AIDS”, National Ministry of Health STD / AIDS Program.
This material was edited in Brazil by the Brazilian Interdisciplinary AIDS Association (ABIA) from the series “TREATMENT ISSUES, FACT SHEET - GMHC”.

Medical Review: Dr Rosana Del Bianco, Emilio Ribas II infectious disease of the St. Paul and Dr. Varella Dráuzio.

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