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HIV Diarrhea
Dec 26, 2001

Dear Dr,

How long since infection would a HIV+ person, who is not on medication, normally experience diarrhea, and what are the characteristics of the conditions?

Thank you and Merry X'mas and Happy New Year.

Response from Dr. Fisher

There are many causes of diarrhea in a person with HIV, some serious some not so serious. Evaluation is mandatory! Opportunistic infections of the GI tract typically cause diarrhea. These include parasites such as cryptosporidia (picked up in drinking water), giardia and microsporidia. Bacteria such as salmonella and shigella usually cause severe acute diarrhea. Tumors or cancers of the intestines can do this too but fortunately are fairly uncommon. Advanced HIV with severe immunosuppression (very low CD4 counts) can directly cause diarrhea by effects on the lining cells of the small intestine. And of course causes unrelated to HIV (such as irritable bowel syndrome of inflammatory bowel disease) can occur in people with HIV. No matter what is happening to you get it checked out!

AF



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