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for Veterans and the Public

Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC)

This condition is caused by bacteria that are present everywhere in the environment — in soil, food, and animals. It is difficult to avoid exposure because MAC is in so many places, but MAC usually causes illness only in people with very weakened immune systems, like those with advanced HIV disease.

Symptoms of MAC can include:

  • fever
  • night sweats
  • weight loss
  • loss of appetite
  • chronic diarrhea
  • weakness
  • fatigue
  • abdominal pain

HIV drugs, by helping your immune system stay strong, can help your body fight the infection. Antibiotics given over a long period of time can control the infection and may be stopped once the disease is cured and the immune system is strong enough. Call your provider if you have vision changes or abdominal discomfort while being treated for MAC.