Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Background: High viral load is currently considered to be one of the main indicators of the progression of HIV-induced immunodepression, but few studies have analysed its relationship to the presence of oral candidiasis (OC). The aim of this cross-sectional study is to analyse the relationship between viral load, total CD4 lymphocyte count, and percentage of CD4 lymphocytes to the occurrence of OC.Methods: The present cross-sectional study included 156 HIV-infected patients seen at a clinic for sexually transmitted diseases and HIV. We assesed the presence or absence of OC, and microbiological samples were obtained from the palatine mucosa and dorsal tongue for a smear stained with KOH (potassium hydroxide) and culture on Sabouraud's dextrose agar in all patients. Viral load was determined by quantification of viral RNA in peripheral blood with a minimum detectable level of 500 RNA copies/ml. CD4+ counts/CD4+ percentage were categorized as 〈200/〈14%, 200–499/14–28%, and 〉500/〉29%, and HIV viral loads were categorized as 〈500, 500–10,000, 〉10,000 copies/ml.Results: Thirty-eight percent (37.8%) of the patients had OC. Patients with CD4+ lymphocyte counts below 200×106/l and CD4+ percentages below 14% showed a significantly higher frequency of OC (57.9% and 48.0%, respectively). Patients with a viral load over 10,000 copies/ml also had OC more frequently (44.8%). In the multiple logistic regression analysis, OC showed a statistically significant association with high viral load [〉10,000 vs 〈500, odds ratio (OR)=11.4], low percentage of CD4+ lymphocytes (〈14% vs 〉28%, OR=5), and injection drug use (IDU vs heterosexual transmission, OR=10.2). In HIV-infected patients, high viral load was associated with more frequent OC, regardless of CD4+ lymphocyte level.Conclusions: These findings suggest that oral candidiasis could be a useful clinical marker of patients with high viral load. In view of these results, emphasis should be placed on the importance of systematic examination of the oral cavity in all medical follow-up examinations of HIV-infected patients.
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