Visceral leishmaniasis/human immunodeficiency virus co-infection in India: the focus of two epidemics

J Med Microbiol. 2006 Jul;55(Pt 7):919-922. doi: 10.1099/jmm.0.46574-0.


India contributes heavily to the global burden of visceral leishmaniasis (VL, kala-azar) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/AIDS. The prevalence of HIV seropositivity in VL patients at a tertiary care centre in northern India, as observed during a prospective study over a period of 2 years, is presented. Of the 104 cases of VL/post-kala-azar dermal leishmaniasis, six (5.7 %) were found to be HIV positive, compared to 11 (5.5 %) seropositive for HIV of 198 patients with fever due to other causes. Four of the six (67 %) VL/HIV co-infected patients had a chronic/relapsing course, not responding to antileishmanial treatment. A CD4 T-cell count of < 200 mm(-3) was found in four of the five (80 %) co-infected patients in whom the test was done. Although the level of HIV/VL co-infection in the present study was lower than that of Mediterranean countries, there is a trend towards rising co-infection. The VL-endemic states of India have a huge population of migrant labourers, who work in high-HIV-prevalence states. The reported increase in the prevalence of HIV in the VL-endemic, populous states of India is a cause of grave concern, and co-infection may assume epidemic proportions in the coming decade if left unchecked.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Female
  • HIV / growth & development*
  • HIV Antibodies / blood
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • HIV Infections / parasitology*
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Infant
  • Leishmania / growth & development*
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral / epidemiology*
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral / parasitology
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral / virology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies


  • HIV Antibodies