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J Infect. 2002 Aug;45(2):99-106.

Diarrhea, CD4 counts and enteric infections in a community-based cohort of HIV-infected adults in Uganda.

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  • 1MRC Programme on AIDS, Uganda.



To examine relationships between diarrhoea, CD4 cell counts and stool pathogens in a community-based cohort of HIV-infected adults in Uganda.


Stool specimens, obtained between October 1995 and December 1997, were linked to patients' symptoms and laboratory results. The relationship between CD4 counts and symptoms was tested using the Wilcoxon rank-sum test and those between organisms and diarrhoea using first a univariate Mantel-Haenszel analysis and then a logistic regression model adjusted for CD4 count and multiple organisms.


1,213 HIV-infected individuals (70% women, median CD4 cell count at enrollment 215 cells/microl) were followed for 1,224 person years of observation (pyo). 484 stool samples were examined, 357 from patients with diarrhoea. The rate of diarrhoea was 661 episodes per 1,000 pyo. CD4 counts were significantly lower in individuals with diarrhoea than those without (P < 0.001, Wilcoxon rank-sum test). Forty-nine percent of diarrhoeal stools and 39% of stools from asymptomatic patients contained enteric pathogens. The most frequent isolates were helminths (29.5% of all stools), followed by bacteria (19.2%) and then protozoa (8.9%). Rates of isolation of diarrhoea-associated pathogens were 29% from diarrhoeal stools and 17% from asymptomatic stools (P = 0.01, chi(2) test). The association between diarrhoea and infection with bacteria or protozoa was weak and there was no association with helminths. Cryptosporidium parvum infection alone was associated with low CD4 counts.


Diarrhoea was common and most strongly associated with low CD4 counts. Bacteria were frequently found, even in stools from asymptomatic individuals. Over two-thirds of diarrhoeal episodes were undiagnosed, suggesting that unidentified agents or primary HIV enteropathy are important causes of diarrhoea in this population.

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