Impact of Anti-Retroviral Treatment and Cotrimoxazole Prophylaxis on Helminth Infections in HIV-Infected Patients in Lambaréné, Gabon

PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2015 May 20;9(5):e0003769. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0003769. eCollection 2015 May.


Background: Foci of the HIV epidemic and helminthic infections largely overlap geographically. Treatment options for helminth infections are limited, and there is a paucity of drug-development research in this area. Limited evidence suggests that antiretroviral therapy (ART) reduces prevalence of helminth infections in HIV-infected individuals. We investigated whether ART exposure and cotrimoxazole preventive therapy (CTX-P) is associated with a reduced prevalence of helminth infections.

Methodology and principal findings: This cross-sectional study was conducted at a primary HIV-clinic in Lambaréné, Gabon. HIV-infected adults who were ART-naïve or exposed to ART for at least 3 months submitted one blood sample and stool and urine samples on 3 consecutive days. Outcome was helminth infection with intestinal helminths, Schistosoma haematobium, Loa loa or Mansonella perstans. Multivariable logistic regression was used to assess associations between ART or CTX-P and helminth infection. In total, 408 patients were enrolled. Helminth infection was common (77/252 [30.5%]). Filarial infections were most prevalent (55/310 [17.7%]), followed by infection with intestinal helminths (35/296 [11.8%]) and S. haematobium (19/323 [5.9%]). Patients on CTX-P had a reduced risk of Loa loa microfilaremia (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 0.47, 95% CI 0.23-0.97, P = 0.04), also in the subgroup of patients on ART (aOR 0.36, 95% CI 0.13-0.96, P = 0.04). There was no effect of ART exposure on helminth infection prevalence.

Conclusions/significance: CTX-P use was associated with a decreased risk of Loa loa infection, suggesting an anthelminthic effect of antifolate drugs. No relation between ART use and helminth infections was established.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Gabon / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / immunology
  • Helminthiasis / epidemiology
  • Helminthiasis / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Loiasis / epidemiology
  • Loiasis / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Trimethoprim, Sulfamethoxazole Drug Combination / therapeutic use*


  • Anti-Retroviral Agents
  • Trimethoprim, Sulfamethoxazole Drug Combination

Grant support

This study was supported by a grant from the UBS Optimus Foundation ( The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.