A Project of the New Mexico AIDS Education and Training Center. Partially funded by the National Library of Medicine
Fact Sheets can be downloaded from the Internet at http://www.aidsinfonet.org
AIDS InfoNet www.aidsinfonet.org
Fact Sheet Number 502
Cryptosporidiosis (crypto) is an infection
caused by the parasite Cryptosporidium
parvum. A parasite gets its nutrients
from another living organism (the host).
Your body is the host when you have
this infection. Crypto mainly affects the
intestines and causes diarrhea.
Crypto is easily spread by contaminated
food or water, or direct contact with an
infected person or animal. About 15%
to 20% of people with AIDS are infected
with crypto. Only some of these
infections lead to serious disease.
vomiting, and stomach cramps. In
people with healthy immune systems,
these symptoms do not last more than
about a week. See Fact Sheet 554 for
more information on diarrhea.
However, crypto may continue for a
long time if the immune system is
damaged. This usually happens with
CD4 cell counts below 300. If you have
HIV, and crypto continues for 4 weeks
or more, you have AIDS according to
the guidelines of
the Centers for
absorption of nutrients. If it continues
for a long time, you can develop serious
weight loss (wasting, see Fact Sheet
problems. To confirm a diagnosis,
doctors usually check your stool (bowel
movement) for parasites and their eggs.
This is called an “O and P” or “ova and
There is no medication that prevents
The best protection is cleanliness.
Avoid contact with human or animal
wastes. Wash your hands after using
the bathroom, gardening, handling dirty
laundry or animals, or changing
diapers. Crypto can be transmitted