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Can J Gastroenterol. 1996 Nov-Dec;10(7):461-8.

Diagnosis and management of AIDS-related diarrhea.

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Department of Medicine, University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford 61107-5078, USA.


The spectrum of illness associated with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) has been increasing since the initial description in 1981. While virtually all organ systems may be affected, the gastrointestinal tract appears to be a major target. Diarrhea is the most common symptom, affecting up to half of all AIDS patients during the course of their disease. Although diarrhea occurs frequently, its optimal management remains controversial. An extensive evaluation including stool studies and endoscopic biopsies of both the colon and small intestine has been widely recommended to identify all potential pathogenic organisms. An alternative approach is a more limited evaluation consisting of stool and blood cultures followed by symptomatic treatment with antidiarrheal agents if no specific organisms are identified. The clinical presentation of the most common opportunistic pathogens are reviewed, including several recently discovered organisms. Recommendations for treatment are followed by a brief discussion of management strategies used to care for patients with AIDS-related diarrhea.

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