Parasitic Disease Screening among HIV Patients from Endemic Countries in a Toronto Clinic
BACKGROUND: Many North American-based HIV patients originate from parasitic disease-endemic regions. Strongyloidiasis, schistosomiasis and filariasis are important due to their wide distribution and potential for severe morbidity.OBJECTIVES: To determine the prevalence, as determined by serological screening, of strongyloidiasis, schistosomiasis and filariasis among patients in an HIV-focused, primary care practice in Toronto, Ontario. A secondary objective was to determine factors associated with positive serological screens.METHODS: A retrospective review of electronic patient records was conducted. Results of serological screens for parasites and relevant laboratory data were collected.RESULTS: Ninety-seven patients were identified. The patients’ mean CD4+ count was 0.45×109/L, median viral load was undetectable and 68% were on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Most originated from Africa (37%) and South America (35%). Of the 97 patients, 10.4% and 8.3% had positive or equivocal screening results for strongyloidiasis, respectively, 7.4% and 4.2% had positive or equivocal screening results for schistosomiasis and 5.5% and 6.8% had positive or equivocal screens for filariasis. Persons with positive parasitic serologies were more often female (28% versus 9%, P=0.03), younger in age (36 versus 43 years of age, P<0.01), had been in Canada for a shorter duration (5 versus 12 years, P<0.0001) and had a higher viral load (10,990 copies/mL versus <50 copies/mL, P <0.001). All patients were asymptomatic. Eosinophilia was not associated with positive screening results.CONCLUSIONS: Using symptoms and eosinophilia to identify parasitic infection was not reliable. Screening for strongyloidiasis and schistosomiasis among patients with HIV from parasite-endemic countries is simple and benign, and may prevent future complications. The clinical benefits of screening for filariasis require further elucidation, but this practice appears to be the least warranted.