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Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology
Volume 23, Issue 1, Pages 23-27
Original Article

Parasitic Disease Screening among HIV Patients from Endemic Countries in a Toronto Clinic

Cecilia T Costiniuk,1 Curtis L Cooper,1,2 Steve Doucette,2 and Colin M Kovacs3

1University of Ottawa, Faculty of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Canada
2Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada
3Maple Leaf Medical Clinic, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Copyright © 2012 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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.