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Gastroenterology. 2009 May;136(6):1952-65. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2008.12.073. Epub 2009 May 7.

Idiopathic AIDS enteropathy and treatment of gastrointestinal opportunistic pathogens.

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Department of Medicine, Gastroenterology Division, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco General Hospital, San Francisco, California 94110, USA.

Erratum in

  • Gastroenterology. 2009 Jul;137(1):393.


Diarrhea in patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) has proven to be both a diagnostic and treatment challenge since the discovery of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) virus more than 30 years ago. Among the main etiologies of diarrhea in this group of patients are infectious agents that span the array of viruses, bacteria, protozoa, parasites, and fungal organisms. In many instances, highly active antiretroviral therapy remains the cornerstone of therapy for both AIDS and AIDS-related diarrhea, but other targeted therapies have been developed as new pathogens are identified; however, some infections remain treatment challenges. Once identifiable infections as well as other causes of diarrhea are investigated and excluded, a unique entity known as AIDS enteropathy can be diagnosed. Known as an idiopathic, pathogen-negative diarrhea, this disease has been investigated extensively. Atypical viral pathogens, including HIV itself, as well as inflammatory and immunologic responses are potential leading causes of it. Although AIDS enteropathy can pose a diagnostic challenge so too does the treatment of it. Highly active antiretroviral therapy, nutritional supplementation, electrolyte replacements, targeted therapy for infection if indicated, and medications for symptom control all are key elements in the treatment regimen. Importantly, a multidisciplinary approach among the gastroenterologist, infectious disease physician, HIV specialists, oncology, and surgery is necessary for many patients.

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