JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Correlation between CD4 counts of HIV patients and enteric protozoan in different seasons - an experience of a tertiary care hospital in Varanasi (India).

BACKGROUND: Protozoan infections are the most serious among all the superimposed infections in HIV patients and claim a number of lives every year. The line of treatment being different for diverse parasites necessitates a definitive diagnosis of the etiological agents to avoid empirical treatment. Thus, the present study has been aimed to elucidate the associations between diarrhoea and CD4 counts and to study the effect of HAART along with management of diarrhoea in HIV positive patients. This study is the first of its kind in this area where an attempt was made to correlate seasonal variation and intestinal protozoan infestations.

METHODS: The study period was from January 2006 to October 2007 wherein stool samples were collected from 366 HIV positive patients with diarrhea attending the ART centre, inpatient department and ICTC of S.S. hospital, I.M.S., B.H.U., Varanasi. Simultaneously, CD4 counts were recorded to assess the status of HIV infection vis-à-vis parasitic infection. The identification of pathogens was done on the basis of direct microscopy and different staining techniques.

RESULTS: Of the 366 patients, 112 had acute and 254 had chronic diarrhea. The percentages of intestinal protozoa detected were 78.5% in acute and 50.7% in chronic cases respectively. Immune restoration was observed in 36.6% patients after treatment on the basis of clinical observation and CD4 counts. In 39.8% of HIV positive cases Cryptosporidium spp. was detected followed by Microsporidia spp. (26.7%). The highest incidence of intestinal infection was in the rainy season. However, infection with Cyclospora spp. was at its peak in the summer. Patients with chronic diarrhea had lower CD4 cell counts. The maximum parasitic isolation was in the patients whose CD4 cell counts were below 200 cells/microl.

CONCLUSION: There was an inverse relation between the CD4 counts and duration of diarrhea. Cryptosporidium spp. was isolated maximum among all the parasites in the HIV patients. The highest incidence of infection was seen in the rainy season.

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