Helminth infection is not associated with faster progression of HIV disease in coinfected adults in Uganda
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.
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.
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.
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.