Background: Worldwide, there is a high co-endemicity of HIV and H. pylori infection and there is growing evidence that H. pylori co-infection is associated with parameters of HIV disease progression. The objective of this study was to investigate the prevalence of H. pylori infection, and the association with clinical, immunological and virological parameters in a large cohort of HIV-infected individuals and uninfected controls in a West African country.
Methods: HIV-patients (n = 1,095) and HIV-negative individuals (n = 107) were recruited at a university hospital in Ghana. H. pylori status was determined using stool antigen testing. HIV-related, clinical and socio-demographic parameters were recorded and analyzed according to H. pylori status.
Results: The prevalence of H. pylori infection was significantly lower in HIV-positive compared to HIV-negative individuals (51.5 vs. 88%, p<0.0001). In HIV patients, H. pylori prevalence decreased in parallel with CD4+ T cell counts. In ART-naïve HIV-infected individuals, but not in those taking ART, H. pylori infection was associated with higher CD4 cell counts (312 vs. 189 cells/μL, p<0.0001) and lower HIV-1 viral loads (4.92 vs. 5.21 log10 copies/mL, p = 0.006). The findings could not be explained by socio-demographic confounders or reported use of antibiotics. Having no access to tap water and higher CD4+ T cell counts were identified as risk factors for H. pylori infection.
Conclusions: H. pylori prevalence was inversely correlated with the degree of immunosuppression. In ART-naïve individuals, H. pylori infection is associated with favorable immunological and virological parameters. The underlying mechanisms for this association are unclear and warrant investigation.