Subscribe to HIV/AIDS email updates.
Cryptosporidiosis (krip-toh-spar-ihd-ee-OH-suhss) is a parasite, or a tiny living thing that lives off of and harms another living thing. This parasite is more commonly called crypto. A person with HIV who gets crypto is considered to have AIDS. You can get it if you put something in your mouth that has been in contact with the bowel movement or feces of a person or animal that has crypto. Most people who get crypto have watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, upset stomach, and fever. In some people, severe diarrhea leads to weight loss. Symptoms can last a long time in people with CD4 counts below 200. People with CD4 below 100 can experience severe weight loss, or wasting, with crypto. It can even affect the respiratory tract, which controls breathing. Crypto can also cause death.
You can help keep crypto out of your mouth by:
- Washing your hands
- Practicing safer sex (Use a male or female condom correctly and consistently, for every sexual act. Do not use a male and female condom at the same time. They could break.)
- Not swallowing water when you swim
- Washing and cooking your food
- Drinking only safe water
- Being careful around animals, especially farm animals and young puppies and kittens
Crypto can be treated, but no drug cures it. HIV drugs can decrease or get rid of crypto symptoms. However, crypto is usually not cured and may come back if the immune system gets weaker. Some drugs may reduce the symptoms of crypto. If you think you may have crypto, talk with your doctor.
Explore other publications and websites
Parasites - Cryptosporidiosis (Also Known as “Crypto”) — This website has information about crypto, including how a person can become infected, symptoms, and prevention and treatment options.
You Can Prevent Crypto (Cryptosporidiosis): A Guide for People with HIV Infection — This publication for people with HIV talks about what crypto is, treatment for crypto, and how to prevent it.
Content last updated July 1, 2011.
Resources last updated July 1, 2011.
A federal government website managed by the Office on Women's Health in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
200 Independence Avenue, S.W. • Washington, DC 20201