Objective: In 497 HIV-positive (+) patients with upper digestive tract symptoms, 23 (5%) had gastroduodenal ulcers (GDU) at upper endoscopy.
Methods: To establish the causes of GDU in this setting, 16 of these patients who had had comprehensive histological evaluation (group I) were compared with 20 HIV+ subjects with upper gastrointestinal symptoms but without ulcer (group II), and with 16 seronegative patients with GDU (group III). Eighty-one percent of group I subjects and 90% of group II patients had C3 AIDS. The presence of gastritis and Helicobacter pylori, fungi, mycobacteria, viruses (especially cytomegalovirus [CMV] and herpes simplex [HSV]), and parasites was determined in all three groups by histopathological and microbiological studies.
Results: The prevalence of chronic active gastritis was 13/16 (81%) in group I, 12/20 (60%) in group II, and 15/16 (94%) in group III. It was associated with H. pylori in group III, and with opportunistic pathogens in groups I and II and with none in group III. H. pylori was detected in 5/16 patients (31%) in group I, in 12/20 (60%) in group II, and 11/16 (69%) in group III. Cytomegalovirus was histologically diagnosed in 8/16 patients (50%) in group I and in 1/20 (5%) in group II. This virus was the only factor shown to be significantly associated with GDU in these cases (p = 0.0046). Cryptosporidium was found in 2/16 (12.5%) patients in group I, in 1/20 (5%) in group II, and in none in group III. Differences between groups I and II were not statistically significant. No other organisms were observed in the three groups.
Conclusions: Gastroduodenal ulcers were infrequent in HIV+ subjects with upper digestive tract symptoms and CMV was the only organism significantly associated with GDU in HIV+ patients. Among HIV+ patients, H. pylori was an uncommon cause of ulcer. Among HIV+ subjects with ulcer, chronic active gastritis was more common than H. pylori and it was associated with other pathogens. Finally, HIV+ patients with GDU should have endoscopic biopsies to detect opportunistic infections, especially CMV, because H. pylori infection is uncommon.