Objective: To determine the natural history of cryptosporidial infection in HIV-infected individuals.
Design: Retrospective study.
Setting: University teaching hospital HIV inpatient and outpatient unit.
Patients: Thirty-eight HIV-infected patients presenting with cryptosporidial diarrhoea between April 1986 and July 1991 were identified retrospectively from laboratory records.
Results: Eleven of the 38 patients had a clinical remission of their diarrhoea. Median lymphocyte count of the remission group was significantly higher than that of the non-remission group (1100 and 550 x 10(6)/l, respectively; P = 0.003). Median survival times were 66 and 11.5 weeks for the remission and non-remission groups, respectively (P = 0.001). Liver function tests performed at the initial diagnosis of cryptosporidial diarrhoea were available for 28 patients. Aspartate transaminase was raised in 16 and alkaline phosphatase in 10 of these 28 patients. Ten patients showed evidence of AIDS-associated sclerosing cholangitis, one patient had an episode of acute pancreatitis and another presented with acute cholecystitis.
Conclusions: This study suggests that HIV-associated cryptosporidial diarrhoea does not have a uniformly poor prognosis. Eleven out of 38 patients had a spontaneous clinical remission, which appears to be predicted by the absolute lymphocyte count. Abnormal liver function tests and hepatobiliary disease were common.