Intestinal parasitic infections in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive and HIV-negative individuals in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

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  • 1 Center for Disease Prevention, and Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Miami School of Medicine, Florida 33136, USA.

Honduras has at least five-times more human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected individuals than any other country in Central America. The relationship between HIV status and the presence of intestinal parasites in this part of the world is unknown. This study presents the results from a prospective, comparative study for the presence of parasites in 52 HIV-positive and 48 HIV-negative persons in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Infection with HIV was determined by microagglutination and confirmed by Western blot analysis. Parasites were detected in stools using formalin-ether concentration, and Kinyoun and trichrome staining. Age, sex, and clinical state of HIV infection were recorded for each study participant. Our results indicate that Cryptosporidium parvum and Strongyloides stercoralis, which are intracellular or live in the mucosa, were found exclusively in persons infected with HIV. In comparison, the prevalence of the extracellular parasites Giardia lamblia, Ascaris lumbricoides, and Trichuris trichiura was significantly higher (P < 0.05) in persons who were HIV-negative. Trichuris worms are in contact with the gut epithelium and less so with the mucosa, whereas Strongyloides lives within the gut mucosa. It is possible that changes in the gut epithelium due to HIV infection do not affect the mucosa and therefore would not affect Strongyloides. We conclude that infection with HIV may selectively deter the establishment of certain intestinal parasites. This may be due to the fact that HIV-induced enteropathy does not favor the establishment of extracellular parasites. Intracellular and mucosal dwelling organisms, however, may benefit from pathologic changes and reduced local immune responses induced by the virus, which, in turn, may lead to higher prevalence among HIV-infected individuals.