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Human immunodeficiency virus and endoscopy: Experience of a general hospital in Singapore


Dr VH Chong, Gastroenterology Unit, Department of Medicine, Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital, Negara Brunei Darussalam. Email:


Introduction:  As the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) pandemic continues, demand on the endoscopic services will also increase. The aim of the present study was to characterize the characteristics and endoscopic findings of HIV-infected Asian patients.

Methods:  Patients with HIV/AIDS who had endoscopy from January 1997 to September 2002 were identified and retrospectively reviewed.

Results:  There were 125 patients (male, 111; mean age: 43.2 ± 11 years; mean CD4 count 63 ± 85/mm3, range, 1–342/mm3) who underwent 181 procedures (upper gastrointestinal endoscopy [UGIE], n = 141; lower gastrointestinal endoscopy [LGIE], n = 40). The median time from diagnosis to endoscopy was 240 days (−660 to 4680 days). For UGIE the main findings were candidiasis, 23.1%; cytomegalovirus esophagitis/ulcers, 11.2%; duodenal ulcers, 8.4%; gastric ulcers, 7.0%; portal-hypertensive-related changes, 6.3%; idiopathic esophageal ulcers, 3.5%; herpes simplex esophagitis/ulcers, 3.5%; and tuberculosis, 2.1%. The CD4 counts were significantly lower in those with opportunistic infections (P = 0.004) but there was no difference between significant and non-significant findings (P = 0.191). For LGIE 35% had endoscopic colitis, 80% of which were non-specific. Significant findings were ileal tuberculosis, n = 3; colon cancer, n = 1; and colonic fistula, n = 1. Ten patients had undergone 16 procedures (UGIE, n = 13; LGIE, n = 3) prior to the diagnosis of HIV/AIDS. They were all male Chinese patients, with positive contact with commercial sex workers (CSW) and had lymphopenia at time of endoscopy. The median time from endoscopy to diagnosis was 180 days (range, 1–660 days). There were no significant differences in age (P = 0.512) and CD4 count at diagnosis (P = 0.066) between patients who had endoscopy before and after diagnosis of HIV/AIDS. Four procedures led to the suspicion of HIV.

Conclusions:  Endoscopic findings of symptomatic HIV Asian patients are comparable to those of the West. Universal precautions should always be exercised in all procedures to avoid transmission of disease.