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PLoS One. 2015 Nov 24;10(11):e0143388. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0143388. eCollection 2015.

Helicobacter pylori Infection Is Associated with Higher CD4 T Cell Counts and Lower HIV-1 Viral Loads in ART-Naïve HIV-Positive Patients in Ghana.

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Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana.
Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Kumasi, Ghana.
Clinical Research Unit, Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, Hamburg, Germany.
Clinic of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Infectious Diseases, University Hospital Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany.
Institute of Virology, University of Bonn Medical Centre, Bonn, Germany.
Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research, Kumasi, Ghana.



Worldwide, there is a high co-endemicity of HIV and H. pylori infection and there is growing evidence that H. pylori co-infection is associated with parameters of HIV disease progression. The objective of this study was to investigate the prevalence of H. pylori infection, and the association with clinical, immunological and virological parameters in a large cohort of HIV-infected individuals and uninfected controls in a West African country.


HIV-patients (n = 1,095) and HIV-negative individuals (n = 107) were recruited at a university hospital in Ghana. H. pylori status was determined using stool antigen testing. HIV-related, clinical and socio-demographic parameters were recorded and analyzed according to H. pylori status.


The prevalence of H. pylori infection was significantly lower in HIV-positive compared to HIV-negative individuals (51.5 vs. 88%, p<0.0001). In HIV patients, H. pylori prevalence decreased in parallel with CD4+ T cell counts. In ART-naïve HIV-infected individuals, but not in those taking ART, H. pylori infection was associated with higher CD4 cell counts (312 vs. 189 cells/μL, p<0.0001) and lower HIV-1 viral loads (4.92 vs. 5.21 log10 copies/mL, p = 0.006). The findings could not be explained by socio-demographic confounders or reported use of antibiotics. Having no access to tap water and higher CD4+ T cell counts were identified as risk factors for H. pylori infection.


H. pylori prevalence was inversely correlated with the degree of immunosuppression. In ART-naïve individuals, H. pylori infection is associated with favorable immunological and virological parameters. The underlying mechanisms for this association are unclear and warrant investigation.

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