In patients with Strongyloides stercoralis infection, a dysregulation of host immunity can lead to hyperinfection syndrome (HS) and disseminated strongyloidiasis (DS), characterized by high fatality rate. HS has been reported in HIV-positive patients following use of corticosteroids or during immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS). A retrospective study was conducted to estimate the prevalence of S. stercoralis infection among HIV-positive immigrants, attending two Italian hospitals. From January 2000 to August 2009, 138 HIV-positive immigrants were systematically screened for strongyloidiasis, as a part of their routine care, with an indirect immunofluorescent antibody test (IFAT) developed at the Centre for Tropical Diseases, Sacro Cuore Hospital of Negrar, Verona. The majority were also submitted to stool examination. Fifteen (11%) resulted infected by S. stercoralis, of whom four (27%) had a negative serology (diagnosis made with stool examination). A higher eosinophil count (0·94 versus 0·24×10(9)/l, P<0·01) and more frequent gastrointestinal and cutaneous symptoms (odds ratio: 4·8 and 5·8, respectively) were found in patients with strongyloidiasis compared with controls. The IFAT is more sensitive than direct parasitological methods. The proportion of false negative results was higher than expected based on the theoretical test sensitivity. Considering the high prevalence detected and the apparent, lower sensitivity of serology, we propose a systematic screening for Strongyloides infection, with both serology and stool culture, for all HIV-positive immigrants coming from endemic areas.
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