Helminth infection is not associated with faster progression of HIV disease in coinfected adults in Uganda.
Brown M., Kizza M., Watera C., Quigley MA., Rowland S., Hughes P., Whitworth JAG., Elliott AM.
BACKGROUND: We studied a cohort of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected adults in Uganda who were not receiving antiretroviral therapy, to explore the impact of helminths on HIV progression in areas where antiretrovirals are not available. METHODS: A total of 663 patients were screened for helminths, treated presumptively with albendazole and selectively with praziquantel, and monitored for 6 months. Blood samples were analyzed for CD4+ cell count and HIV-1 RNA. RESULTS: Schistosoma mansoni, hookworm, Strongyloides stercoralis, and Mansonella perstans were the most prevalent helminths. Helminth infection was not associated with higher viral load, lower CD4+ cell count, or faster decrease in CD4+ cell count preceding antihelminthic therapy. The effect of coinfection on HIV disease progression varied with species. CD4+ cell counts were highest in subjects with hookworm and Mansonella perstans infection. For most helminths, effective treatment was associated with greater decrease in CD4+ cell count than in those in whom infection was still present at follow-up. A highly significant decrease in viral load at 6 months was seen in patients with persistent Mansonella perstans infection at follow-up. Mortality was lower in subjects with hookworm infection at enrollment. CONCLUSION: Helminth infection was not associated with more-advanced HIV disease or faster disease progression. Antihelminthic therapy may not be beneficial in slowing HIV progression in coinfected adults.