The correlation of gastrointestinal symptoms and infections in 186 consecutive patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection undergoing diagnostic endoscopy (oesophagogastroduodenoscopy, n = 124; colonoscopy, n = 37; both, n = 25) was investigated. Biopsy and stool samples were examined for infective agents. Only weight loss (p = 0.003) and dysphagia (p = 0.027) were more common in patients at stage CDC IV compared with earlier stages. In three of 27 patients at stage II/III and in 93 of 159 patients at stage IV an infective agent was identified in stool or gastrointestinal biopsy specimen (p < 0.001). Cytomegalovirus (n = 35), Candida sp (n = 28), M avium complex (n = 10), and Cryptosporidium (eight) were the most frequent agents detected. At stage IV, diarrhoea was more frequent in infected compared with non-infected patients (p = 0.006); however, an infective agent was also found in 39 of 82 patients at stage IV without diarrhoea. The frequency of gastrointestinal symptoms was not consistently increased in patients harbouring specific infective agents compared with non-infected patients. Our findings indicate that the pathogenic relevance of a gastrointestinal infection in HIV infected patients has to be verified and indirectly support the existence of an HIV associated enteropathy.
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