JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Prevalence of intestinal parasitic infections in HIV-infected individuals and their relationship with immune status.

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Intestinal parasitic infection is a common entity in patients infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). These infections may lead to fatal complications in the immuno suppressed individuals. The aim of the present study was to determine the prevalence of intestinal parasitic infections in HIV sero-positive patients and their relationship with the immune status of individuals.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Fecal samples from 100 HIV sero-positive and an equal number of HIV sero-negative individuals were collected and examined for enteric parasites by direct microscopy. CD4 counts were carried out in only HIV sero-positive patients. Prevalence of intestinal parasites in patients with CD4 count<200 cells/μl, 200-499 cells/μl, and ≥500 cells/μl in HIV-infected patients were compared.

RESULTS: Enteric parasites were detected in 59.3% HIV-infected patients with CD4 count<200 cells/μl as compared with 23.5% in patients with CD4 count>200 cells/μl (P<0.01). Prevalence of coccidian parasites was significantly (P<0.01) higher (14%) in HIV sero-positive subjects compared with HIV sero-negative subjects (2%). Isospora belli (25%) was the most common parasite with CD4 count<200 cells/μl, followed by Cryptosporidium parvum (12.5%). Prevalence of intestinal parasitic infections was significantly higher in patients with diarrhea, 73.6% than without diarrhea, 25.9%, (P<0.05). The mean CD4 count of HIV sero-positive patients presenting with diarrhea was significantly (P<0.01) lower (181.26±135.14) than without diarrhea (352.02±204.03).

CONCLUSION: This study emphasizes the need for routine screening of parasites especially in patients with lower CD4 count so as to decrease the morbidity by ensuring the early treatment of the cases.

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