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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Intestinal parasitic infections in relation to HIV/AIDS status, diarrhea and CD4 T-cell count

Shimelis Assefa1, Berhanu Erko2, Girmay Medhin2, Zelalem Assefa3 and Techalew Shimelis4*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medical Laboratory Science, Gondar University, PO Box 196 Gondar, Ethiopia

2 Aklilu Lemma Institute of Pathobiology, Addis Ababa University, PO Box 1176, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

3 Department of Surgery, Addis Ababa University, PO Box 16466, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

4 Department of Medical Laboratory Science, Hawassa University, PO Box 1560, Hawassa, Ethiopia

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2009, 9:155  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-9-155

Published: 18 September 2009



HIV infection has been modifying both the epidemiology and outcome of parasitic infections. Hence, this study was undertaken to determine the prevalence of intestinal parasitic infection among people with and without HIV infection and its association with diarrhea and CD4 T-cell count.


A cross-sectional study was conducted at Hawassa Teaching and Referral Hospital focusing on HIV positive individuals, who gave blood for CD4 T-cell count at their first enrolment and clients tested HIV negative from November, 2008 to March, 2009. Data on socio-demographic factors and diarrhea status were obtained by interviewing 378 consecutive participants (214 HIV positive and 164 HIV negative). Stool samples were collected from all study subjects and examined for parasites using direct, formol-ether and modified acid fast stain techniques.


The prevalence of any intestinal parasitic infection was significantly higher among HIV positive participants. Specifically, rate of infection with Cryptosporidium, I. belli, and S. stercoralis were higher, particularly in those with CD4 count less than 200 cells/μL. Diarrhea was more frequent also at the same lower CD4 T-cell counts.


Immunodeficiency increased the risk of having opportunistic parasites and diarrhea. Therefore; raising patient immune status and screening at least for those treatable parasites is important.