Developments in medical microbiology in the past 20 years have had a profound impact on our understanding of infectious diseases and have led the way in the development of new diagnostic techniques. Molecular diagnostic techniques are generally more sensitive, specific, and rapid than conventional methods by which infectious agents are detected. For many of the opportunistic infectious agents of the gastrointestinal tract found in HIV-infected individuals, the application of molecular diagnostic techniques to the clinical laboratory is in its infancy. In this article, methods by which these techniques can be evaluated are demonstrated, and the current status and potential future application of these techniques for each gastrointestinal opportunistic pathogen are described.
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