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Trop Parasitol. 2013 Jan;3(1):7-16. doi: 10.4103/2229-5070.113888.

Current laboratory diagnosis of opportunistic enteric parasites in human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients.

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Department of Microbiology, L.T.M. Medical College, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.


Diarrhea is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected individuals. Opportunistic enteric parasitic infections are encountered in 30-60% of HIV seropositive patients in developed countries and in 90% of patients in developing countries. Once the CD4(+) cell count drops below 200 cells/μl, patients are considered to have developed acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), with the risk of an AIDS-defining illness or opportunistic infection significantly increasing. Opportunistic enteric parasites encountered in these patients are Cryptosporidium, Isospora, Cyclospora, and microsporidia; as well as those more commonly associated with gastrointestinal disease, for example, Giardia intestinalis, Entamoeba histolytica, Strongyloides stercoralis, and also rarely Balantidium coli. In view of AIDS explosion in India, opportunistic enteric parasites are becoming increasingly important and it has to be identified properly. Apart from wet mounts, concentration methods for stool samples and special staining techniques for identification of these parasites, commercially available fecal immunoassays are widely available for the majority of enteric protozoa. Molecular methods such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR), PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism, flow cytometry, and sodium dodecyl sulphate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE), have also come in the pipeline for early diagnosis of these infections. Proper disposal of the feces to prevent contamination of the soil and water, boiling/filtering drinking water along with improved personal hygiene might go a long way in preventing these enteric parasitic infections.


HIV-infected patients; laboratory diagnosis; opportunistic enteric parasites

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