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International Journal of Infectious Diseases: Volume 1, Number 4
HIV Infection and Susceptibility to Epidemic Bacterial Infections among Rwandan Refugees
Shlomo Maayan, MD; Nila Marks; Alexander Viterbro; Yona Zeide; Abraham Morag, MD; Lucien Neil, MD; Nurit Strauss, MsC; and Mervyn Shapiro, MD

Int J Infect Dis 1997; 1(4):199-201.

Objective: To study HIV prevalence and susceptibility to epidemic bacterial infections among Rwandan refugees treated at the Israeli military field hospital in Goma, Zaire, during a 2-week period of massive outbreaks of cholera, shigellosis, and meningitis in the summer of 1994.

Methods: Anonymous testing was performed on serum samples obtained for laboratory analysis from patients who had had an intravenous line inserted at the hospital's emergency facility. The prevalence of HIV was compared among patients who presented at the emergency facility because of watery or bloody diarrhea, pneumonia, meningitis, or trauma.

Results: Of the 1350 patients who were seen during the period, 127 were tested: 35 of 127 (27.5%) were HIV seropositive by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and Western blot. No statistical difference in the prevalence of HIV was found among the four categories.

Conclusion: A high prevalence of HIV infection was observed among Rwandan refugees treated for severe cholera, shigellosis, pneumonia, meningitis, or trauma in a field hospital in Goma, Zaire in the summer of 1994. This rate was similar to that reported among the healthy Rwandan population. Although based on only a small sample of the sick refugees in the camps, this study suggests that HIV infection did not cause increased susceptibility to the epidemic bacterial infections seen during the 1994 refugee crisis in Rwanda.

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