The influence of different helminth infection phenotypes on immune responses against HIV in co-infected adults in South Africa
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The convergent distribution of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and helminth infections has led to the suggestion that infection with helminths exacerbates the HIV epidemic in developing countries. In South Africa, it is estimated that 57% of the population lives in poverty and carries the highest burden of both HIV and helmith infections, however, the disease interactions are under-researched. We employed both coproscopy and Ascaris lumbricoides-specific serum IgE to increase diagnostic sensitivity
and to distinguish between different helminth infection phenotypes and their effects on immune responses in HIV coinfected
individuals. Coproscopy was done by formol ether and Kato Katz methods. HIV positive and negative adults were stratified according to the presence or absence of A. lumbricoides and/or Trichuris trichuria eggs with or without elevated Ascaris IgE. Lymphocyte subsets were phenotyped by flow cytometry. Viral loads, serum total IgE and eosinophils were also analysed. Lymphocyte activation markers (CCR5, HLA-DR, CD25, CD38 and CD71) were determined. Non parametric statistics were used to describe differences in the variables between the subgroups. Helminth prevalence ranged between 40%-60%. Future research on helminth-HIV coinfection should include parasite-specific IgE measurements in addition to coproscopy to delineate the different response phenotypes. Helminth infection affects the immune response to HIV in some individuals with high IgE and egg excretion in stool.