Diarrhoea is the most common manifestation of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in Africa. Numerous parasitic or bacterial agents have been implicated, but a pathogen-specific aetiology has not been found. Enteric viruses (i.e., rotavirus, small round structured viruses, coronavirus, and adenovirus) were detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay or electron microscopy in faecal specimens of 17% of 198 consecutive adult admissions to a general medical ward of an urban hospital in Kinshasa, Zaire. Overall, 57% of patients were seropositive for infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) 1; of these, 50% were classified as World Health Organization AIDS stage IV. The prevalence of enteric viruses in stool specimens did not differ significantly between patients with and without HIV infection, and was not associated with acute or chronic diarrhoea, or constitutional symptoms. However, a trend (P = 0.14) towards greater frequency of virus in stools from patients in the lower 3 quintiles of the CD4/CD8 T cell ratio was seen. This trend approached statistical significance (P = 0.07) with stratification by HIV infection. Although we found no evidence in this population to support a major pathogenic role for these viruses alone in the enteropathy of AIDS, increased viral shedding was weakly associated with immunodeficiency.
PIP: During July-October 1989 in Zaire, a physician examined and took blood and stool samples from 198 adult patients at Mama Yemo Hospital in central Kinshasa to learn the prevalence of enteric viruses and their link to diarrhea, immunosuppression, and wasting among HIV infected and uninfected patients. In Kinshasa, diarrhea is prevalent and heterosexual intercourse is the main mode of HIV transmission. 57.6% of the patients were infected with HIV. 50% of the HIV-positive patients had AIDS. 93% of all HIV-positive patients either had AIDS (stage IV) or advanced stage III disease. 49% of them died while in the hospital. 22% of the HIV-negative patients died while in the hospital. 17% of all adult patients studied were infected with at least 1 enteric virus, especially rotavirus. Enteric viruses were isolated from both HIV infected and uninfected patients (17% and 18%, respectively). State of immunocompromise did not significantly affect viral shedding, but fewer patients in the less immunocompromised stages shed viruses than did those in the advanced stages of immunocompromise (3 vs. 72 patients). When examining the ratio of circulating CD4 and CD8 T cells in HIV-infected patients, however, there was a trend toward greater frequency of enteric viruses (p = .07). Chronic diarrhea was significantly associated with HIV seropositivity (p 0.01), HIV stage (p .001), and CD4/CD8 T cell ratio (p .01). Acute diarrhea was not associated with any of the above, however. These findings suggest that enteric viruses were not a significant cause of diarrhea, but they were isolated somewhat more often in patients of advanced immunosuppression.