Toxoplasmosis has historically been considered one of the most important opportunistic infections detected in HIV/AIDS patients. The prevalence rates of latent Toxoplasma infections in HIV-infected patients has been found to vary greatly from 3% to 97%. Prevalence has been found to be related to ethnicity, certain risk factors, and reactivation of toxoplasmosis. Prior to antiretroviral therapy, toxoplasmic encephalitis (TE) was the most common focal cerebral lesion detected in AIDS patients with Toxoplasma infection, occurring in approximately half of Toxoplasma-seropositive patients. Other forms of dissemination have also been reported in AIDS patients in sites such as the eyes, lungs, heart and spinal cord. Anti-Toxoplasma therapy and chemoprophylaxis have shown effectiveness in reducing the incidence of TE, while noncompliance has been identified as a cause of relapse in these settings. Toxoplasmosis is one of the most common neuropathological complications found at autopsy. Rapid progress in the development of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has changed the observed patterns with TE, for which there has been a marked decrease in overall incidence. Subsequently, TE has been found to be significantly associated with the so-called "neurological immune restoration inflammatory syndrome" (NIRIS). Toxoplasma screening programs are recommended for all newly diagnosed HIV-positive patients. Chemoprophylaxis should be considered in HIV-infected patients who have a CD4 < 200 cells/mm3, particularly in settings where resources are limited and there is not access to HAART. TE remains a cause of morbidity and mortality among AIDS patients.
The seroprevalence of toxoplasmosis among 505 of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/AIDS patients was 226 (44.8%; 95% CI 42.64-51.76): 27 (47.4%) and 199 (44.4%) showed Toxoplasma seropositivity with and without toxoplasmic encephalitis (TE), respectively (P <0.05). The majority of these patients were in the 25-34 age group (44 versus 39%), male (86 versus 76%), and Chinese (49 versus 53%), though no statistical significance was found between the two. Significant differences between these two groups were noted, however, in terms of marital status, occupation, and present address. The heterosexual exhibited the most frequent behavior at risk for HIV infection, and accounted for 51 and 59% of patients with and without TE, respectively. Only 17/260 (6.5%) and 1/137 (0.7%) of them later acquired TE after receiving primary chemoprophylaxis (cotrimoxazole) and antiretroviral therapy including HAART (P <0.05). Fifty-seven (11.3%) out of those 505 patients were diagnosed with AIDS-related TE. The most common clinical manifestation was headache (56%). The computed tomography scan findings showed most lesions to be multiple (96.4%), hypodense (66.7%), and in the parietal region (39.3%). Twenty-seven (47.4%) patients had chronic (latent) Toxoplasma infection as evidenced by seropositivity for anti-Toxoplasma (IgG) antibody. At the time of diagnosis, the range of CD4 cell count was from 0-239 with a median of 25 cells/cumm. We also found that a CD4 count of less than 100 cells/cumm was significantly associated with development of TE (P <0.05). Clinical outcomes showed that among those who survived, 21 (36.8%), 16 (28.1%), and 2 (3.5%) of patients had completed treatment, transferred out, and were lost to follow up, respectively. Unfortunately, 18 (31.6%) of the cases were officially pronounced dead. Overall, 7 (12.3%) patients were detected as recurrent TE in this study.
After 30 years of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic, parasites have been one of the most common opportunistic infections (OIs) and one of the most frequent causes of morbidity and mortality associated with HIV-infected patients. Due to severe immunosuppression, enteric parasitic pathogens in general are emerging and are OIs capable of causing diarrhoeal disease associated with HIV. Of these, Cryptosporidium parvum and Isospora belli are the two most common intestinal protozoan parasites and pose a public health problem in acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) patients. These are the only two enteric protozoan parasites that remain in the case definition of AIDS till today. Leishmaniasis, strongyloidiasis and toxoplasmosis are the three main opportunistic causes of systemic involvements reported in HIV-infected patients. Of these, toxoplasmosis is the most important parasitic infection associated with the central nervous system. Due to its complexity in nature, toxoplasmosis is the only parasitic disease capable of not only causing focal but also disseminated forms and it has been included in AIDS-defining illnesses (ADI) ever since. With the introduction of highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART), cryptosporidiosis, leishmaniasis, schistosomiasis, strongyloidiasis, and toxoplasmosis are among parasitic diseases reported in association with immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS). This review addresses various aspects of parasitic infections in term of clinical, diagnostic and therapeutic challenges associated with HIV-infection.
This cross-sectional study determined the prevalence of cryptosporidiosis in HIV-infected patients using polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Stool specimens were collected from HIV infected patients who were admitted to Hospital Raja Perempuan Zainab II, Kota Bharu, Malaysia, for various indications from December 2004 to December 2005. A modified acid-fast stain was performed on the direct stool smears, then the stool specimens were further tested using nested PCR targeting the 18S rRNA gene of Cryptosporidium parvum, with a built-in internal control (IC). Out of 59 samples, 11 were positives. Nested PCR identified a total of nine samples (16%) compared to microscopy, which identified only three samples. All PCR negative results showed IC amplicons, suggesting that these samples were true negatives and were not due to inhibition of PCR. This study highlights the importance of molecular diagnosis in determining the true prevalence and epidemiology of C. parvum.
CONTEXT: Diarrhoea is one of the major complications occurring in over 90% of HIV-infected individuals in developing countries. Coccidian group of parasites, being opportunistic pathogens, have been implicated as the most common causative agents of diarrhoea among HIV-infected population.
AIMS: The aim was to study the magnitude of parasitic diarrhoea with special context to coccidian parasitic infections in HIV-infected individuals and their association with the patient's immunological status measured by CD4 T-cell counts.
SETTINGS AND DESIGN: This investigation was performed between January 2002 and December 2014 at a tertiary HIV care centre in Chennai, South India.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Stool samples were collected and microscopically observed for parasites using direct, formal-ether-concentrated wet mounts and modified acid-fast staining for coccidian parasites. CD4 T-cell counts were done by FACScount.
STATISTICAL ANALYSIS USED: All statistical analyses were performed using GraphPad Prism software, version 5.0, andP < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.
RESULTS: Coccidian parasitic infection accounted for about 23.4% of parasitic infections, and of these, Cystoisospora belli was observed to be the most common cause of diarrhoea (88.8%), followed by Cryptosporidium spp. (9.9%) and Cyclospora spp. (1.3%). Trend analysis of coccidian aetiology during the study period revealed a significant rise in the positivity of C. belli and Cryptosporidium spp. (P = 0.001). Among the HIV patients with CD4+ T-cell counts <200 cells/μL, Cryptosporidium infection was most common (90%), followed by infection with C. belli(61.4%).
CONCLUSIONS: Coccidian parasites continue to be the most common aetiological agent of diarrhoea among patients with HIV. The increasing trend of positivity of both cystoisosporiasis and cryptosporidiosis over the study period and the high positivity of cryptosporidiosis in patients with lower CD4+ T-cell counts are issues of serious concern. The findings call for the need for the early diagnosis of coccidian parasites and appropriate intervention among HIV-infected patients.
Brain-eating amoebae (Acanthamoeba spp., Balamuthia mandrillaris, and Naegleria fowleri) can cause opportunistic infections involving the central nervous system. It is troubling that the mortality rate is more than 90% despite advances in antimicrobial chemotherapy over the last few decades. Here, we describe urgent key priorities for improving outcomes from infections due to brain-eating amoebae.
Chemotherapy can cause immunosuppression, which may trigger latent intestinal parasitic infections in stools to emerge. This study investigated whether intestinal parasites can emerge as opportunistic infections in breast and colorectal cancer patients (n=46 and n=15, respectively) undergoing chemotherapy treatment. Breast cancer patients were receiving a 5-fluorouracil/epirubicin/cyclophosphamide (FEC) regimen (6 chemotherapy cycles), and colorectal cancer patients were receiving either an oxaliplatin/5-fluorouracil/folinic acid (FOLFOX) regimen (12 cycles) or a 5-fluorouracil/folinic acid (Mayo) regimen (6 cycles). Patients had Blastocystis hominis and microsporidia infections that were only present during the intermediate chemotherapy cycles. Thus, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy should be screened repeatedly for intestinal parasites, namely B. hominis and microsporidia, as they may reduce the efficacy of chemotherapy treatments.
Strongyloidiasis is an infection caused by the intestinal nematode Strongyloides stercoralis. Infected healthy individuals are usually asymptomatic, however it is potentially fatal in immunocompromised hosts due to its capacity to cause an overwhelming hyperinfection. Strongyloidiasis could be missed during routine screening because of low and intermittent larval output in stool and variable manifestations of the symptoms. We present two cases of strongyloidiasis occurring in children with solid organ malignancies suspected to have the infection based on their clinical conditions and treatment history for cancer. Both patients were diagnosed by molecular and serological tests and were successfully treated. Thus, strongyloidiasis in patients undergoing intensive treatment for malignancies should be suspected, properly investigated and treated accordingly.