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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008 Oct 8;(4):CD005644. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD005644.pub2.

Antimotility agents for chronic diarrhoea in people with HIV/AIDS.

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Effective Health Care Alliance Programme (EHCAP Nigeria), Institute of Tropical Disease Research and Prevention, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Moore Road, Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria, 540001.



AIDS-related diarrhoea is a common cause of morbidity and mortality in HIV positive individuals, especially in the sub-Saharan Africa where 70% of deaths from HIV occur. It often compromises quality of life both in those receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) and the ART naive. Empirical antidiarrhoeal treatment may be required in about 50% of cases which are non-pathogenic or idiopathic and in cases resulting from antiretroviral therapy. Antimotility agents (Loperamide, Diphenoxylate, Codeine) and adsorbents (Bismuth Subsalicylate, Kaolin/Pectin, Attapulgite) are readily available, and have been found to be useful in this condition and so, are often used. Antimotilitics are opioids, decreasing stool output by reducing bowel activity thereby increasing fecal transit time in the gut, promoting fluid and electrolyte retention while adsorbents act by binding to fluids, toxins and other substances to improve stool consistency and eliminate the toxins. Due to its potential impact on the management of chronic diarrhoea in persons with HIV/AIDS, we reviewed the effectiveness of antimotility agents in controlling chronic diarrhoea in immunocompromised states caused by HIV/AIDS.


To assess the effectiveness of antimotility agents in controlling chronic diarrhoea in people with HIV/AIDS.


We searched Medline, EMBASE, the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register, the Cochrane HIV/AIDS Register and AIDSearch databases in November 2006. We also contacted WHO, CDC, pharmaceutical companies and experts in the field for information on previous or on-going trials and checked reference list from retrieved studies, irrespective of language and publication status.


Randomised controlled trials comparing an antimotility agent or an adsorbent with another antimotility agent, placebo, an adsorbent or no treatment in children and adults diagnosed with HIV and presenting with diarrhoea of three or more weeks duration.


Two authors independently undertook study selection and examined full articles of potentially eligible studies.


One trial was found assessing the use of an adsorbent (attapulgite) compared to a placebo for chronic diarrhoea in people with HIV/AIDS. It included 91 adults (Aged 18 to 60), diagnosed with AIDS and experiencing diarrhoea for at least 7 days. There was no evidence that attapulgite is superior to placebo in controlling diarrhoea by reducing stool frequency and normalising stool consistency on days 1 (0.34 (95% CI 0.01 - 8.15)), 3 (1.35 (95% CI 0.51 - 3.62)) and 5 (1.74 (95% CI 0.89 - 3.38)). This was a small trial and may not have had enough power to show evidence of effects. Five deaths were reported which was not classified according to the arms of the study.Studies assessing the use of antimotility agents were not found.


This review highlights the absence of evidence for the use of antimotility agents and adsorbents in controlling diarrhoea in people with HIV/AIDS. While no trials assessing the use of Antimotilitics were found, the retrieved study showed that attapulgite was not better than placebo in controlling diarrhoea in HIV/AIDS patients . For optimum patient care, these agents can still be used, with greater emphasis placed on adjunct therapies like massive fluid replacement while evidence for practice is awaited from further studies and reviews.

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