Gastrointestinal Infections in AIDS

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▪ As the largest lymphoid organ in the body, the gastrointestinal tract is a potential reservoir for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the causative agent of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), and it is an important site for HIV-induced immunodeficiency. The resulting defects in cellular and humoral defense mechanisms predispose the gastrointestinal tract to a spectrum of viral, fungal, bacterial, and protozoan pathogens that cause relentless morbidity and, in some cases, death. With a thorough diagnostic evaluation, physicians can identify one or more of these pathogens in a majority of patients with AIDS who have gastrointestinal symptoms. The identification of enteric pathogens in patients with AIDS is important because an increasing array of therapeutic regimens is becoming available to treat many of these infections.

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