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HIV and the Gastrointestinal Tract

Alexandra J Kent and Brian G Gazzard

The first cases of AIDS were reported in 1981, and since then, a devastating worldwide pandemic has developed, with huge implications for public health. Over the last 25 years, there have been an estimated 25 million AIDS-related deaths and an estimated 65 million people infected with HIV [1]. In 2005, 4.1 million people were newly infected with HIV and 38.6 million people were already living with the virus [1]. The number of infected individuals continues to rise due to population growth and the life-prolonging effects of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) [1]. Projections estimate that by 2030, 89–117 million people will be living with HIV [2]. The increasing incidence of heterosexual transmission has led to a higher rate of vertical transmission, which is a significant problem in developing countries. Given the inevitable rise in the number of HIV-infected patients, it is important for all gastroenterologists to have a basic understanding of the gastrointestinal (GI) complications of HIV and AIDS.

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