Burden of intestinal parasites amongst HIV/AIDS patients attending Bamenda Regional Hospital in Cameroon
Background: Intestinal parasitic infections cause severe diarrhea especially in debilitated subjects with clinical complications of dehydration, malabsorption and severe weight loss, complicating treatment schemes.
Materials and Methods: This was a cross-sectional, hospital based study during which data were collected by the use of questionnaires and laboratory tests of stool and blood samples respectively.
Results: A total of 200 volunteer patients participated in this study of which 132 (66.0%) were females and 68 (34.0%) males. Eight different intestinal parasites were identified in 69 (34.5%) participants. The most prevalent parasite was Entamoeba histolytica with 8.0% of infected cases. Opportunistic parasites were identified in 15.5% of the study population. Seven percent of patients were infected with Cryptosporidium parvum, 6.5% with Isospora belli, and 2% with Microsporidium species. Diarrhea was found in 38.5% of the study participants 62.3% of whom had at least a single intestinal parasite. Opportunistic parasites were significantly more prevalent in patients with diarrhea and participants with CD4+ T cell counts less than 200 cells/al (P < 0.05). Diarrhea was significantly more prevalent in
participants who were on antiretroviral drugs than in those who were not (66.5% vs. 33.5%, P<0.05).
Conclusion: Though opportunistic parasites were found in the majority of HIV/AIDS patients attending the Bamenda Regional Hospital, Entamoeba histolytica and other intestinal parasites represented a common burden. It was therefore recommended appropriate diagnosis before initiating the routine treatment which is usually practiced in our health settings.
Key words: Intestinal parasites, HIV/AIDS patients, Bamenda Regional Hospital