Prevalence of gastrointestinal symptoms among ambulatory HIV patients and a control population
Background The gastrointestinal tract is a common site of involvement in HIV-infected
patients. Gastrointestinal symptoms are common in the general population and are associated
with decreased quality of life.
Methods Ambulatory consecutive HIV-infected patients and consecutive healthy blood donors
seen in Jamaica were studied. A 19-item questionnaire of GI symptoms was administered.
Results There were 196 respondents. Among 99 HIV patients, the mean number of symptoms
was 2.9 and in 97 controls 3.3 (p=0.091). Dysphagia and odynophagia were present in
8.1% of HIV patients and 3.1% of the controls (p=0.129). Belching was present in 59.6% of
HIV patients and in 96.8% of controls (pâ‰¤0.001). In the control group, 44.3% had heartburn
compared to 29.3% of HIV patients. Within the preceding year, 26.3% of HIV participants
and 12.4% of controls sought medical attention for their GI symptoms (p=0.001). GI symptomatology was directly related to immune status in the HIV group as patients with a CD4
count of less than 200 cells/Î¼L reported up to 6 GI symptoms, those with CD4 of 201-350
cells/Î¼L had 3 symptoms, and patients with CD4 greater than 351 cells/Î¼L had 1 symptom.
Pain on swallowing, and vomiting were significantly more common in patients with CD4
<350 cells/Î¼L than in controls.
Conclusions GI symptoms were common in HIV patients and controls. In HIV patients symptoms
were directly related to CD4 count. Pain on swallowing and vomiting were significantly
more common in patients with CD4 <350 cells/Î¼L than in controls.
Keywords GI symptoms, HIV infection
Ann Gastroenterol 2012; 25 (3): 243-248