Aspergillosis is a fungal infection. It can occur in people with healthy or suppressed immune systems. In people with healthy immune systems, it usually causes mild or moderate lung problems. In people with suppressed immune systems, aspergillosis can cause serious lung problems and can also spread to other organs, including the kidneys, liver, skin, bones, and brain. Because these more severe forms of aspergillosis can be life threatening, it is important to diagnose and treat this infection quickly.
Aspergillosis is rare among HIV-positive people, even more so now that combination anti-HIV therapy is available. It is most common among people who have neutropenia – a low level of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell. This type of immune suppression usually isn't seen in people with HIV. It usually occurs in patients being treated for cancer or with powerful immune-suppressing drugs after receiving an organ transplant.
Aspergillosis is caused by Aspergillus, a group of fungi. It is very difficult to avoid these fungi, as they are found throughout the environment. Aspergillus can be found in soil, decomposing plants, household dust, building materials, ornamental plants, food, and water. Dirt, dust, or other materials containing Aspergillus can easily travel through the air and be inhaled into the lungs. People who smoke marijuana, which can contain Aspergillus spores, may be at an increased risk of developing aspergillosis.