Diarrhea is a common and often inadequately treated complication in patients with human immunodeficiency virus infection. Diarrhea has a significant impact on quality of life (QOL) and can contribute to malnutrition, weight loss, immunosuppression, and mortality. In addition, diarrhea may have a significant impact on compliance with antiretroviral therapy; however, this impact has not been adequately assessed. Medications, including protease inhibitors (PIs), are recognized as a common cause of diarrhea. Treatment of PI-associated diarrhea is largely nonspecific; most of the available literature is published only in abstract form and is based primarily on retrospective and survey data. Agents for which some efficacy has been shown for treatment of PI-associated diarrhea include oat bran, psyllium, loperamide, calcium carbonate, SP-303, and pancrelipase. Practitioners and patients need to work together to determine which treatment modality is appropriate based on efficacy, cost, and lifestyle. Management of diarrhea is crucial to improving QOL, controlling weight loss, and enhancing overall efficacy of antiretroviral therapy.
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