Intestinal parasitic infections are among the most common communicable diseases worldwide, particularly in developing countries. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes dysregulation of the immune system through the depletion of CD4+ T lymphocytes which gives rise to opportunistic infections.
A cross-sectional study was conducted from January to October 2018. Stool and blood samples were collected from participants aged 1 to 19. Stool samples were analyzed for intestinal parasites. Blood samples were analyzed for HIV and CD4 + T cell counts.
Out of 214 children enrolled, 119 (55.6%) were HIV infected and 95 (44.4%) were HIV non-infected. All infected children were on antiretroviral treatment (ART). The prevalence of intestinal parasites was 20.2% in HIV infected and 15.8% in non-infected children. Among the 119 HIV infected children, 33 (27.7%) of them had a CD4+ T cell count less than 500 cells/mm3, and amongst them 5.9% had CD4+ T cell count less than 200 cells/mm3. Among HIV infected children, Cryptosporidium spp. was frequently detected, 7/119 (5.9%), followed by Giardia lamblia 5/119 (4.2%) then Blastocystis hominis 3/119 (2.5%) and Entamoeba coli 3/119 (2.5%). Participants on ART and prophylactic co-trimoxazole for >10 years had little or no parasite infestation.
Although ART treatment in combination with prophylactic co-trimoxazole reduces the risk of parasitic infection, 20.2% of HIV infected children harbored intestinal parasites including Cryptosporidium spp. Stool analysis may be routinely carried out in order to treat detected cases of opportunistic parasites and such improve more on the life quality of HIV infected children.