Visceral leishmaniasis and HIV-1 co-infection in southern France

Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. Mar-Apr 1995;89(2):159-62. doi: 10.1016/0035-9203(95)90476-x.


Between 1986 and 1993 visceral leishmaniasis (VL) was diagnosed in 50 adult patients with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection (8 females, 42 males: 31 intravenous drug users, 11 homosexual or bisexual men, 6 heterosexual individuals, 2 blood recipients) from 5 hospital centres in southern France. Diagnosis of VL was by demonstration of Leishmania and isolation of promastigotes by culture in Novy-McNeal-Nicolle medium. Leishmania isolates were identified by their isoenzyme profile in 28 patients. All the patients were immunocompromised when VL was diagnosed. Their median CD4 cell count was 25 x 10(6) (0-200). However, only 21 patients (42%) fulfilled the 1987 CDC criteria for the acquired immune deficiency syndrome before VL developed. Fever (84%), splenomegaly (56%), hepatomegaly (34%), and pancytopenia (62%) were the most common presenting features. Clinical signs were lacking in 10% of patients. Anti-leishmanial antibodies were detected by indirect immunofluorescence or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in 26/47 cases (55%). Combining these techniques with Western blotting (WB) gave a positivity rate of 95%. Amastigotes were demonstrated in bone marrow aspirates in 47 cases (94%). Unusual sites for parasites were found in 17 patients (34%), mainly in the digestive tract but also skin and lung. Viscerotropic L. infantum zymodeme MON-1 was characterized in 86% of cases. Dermotropic zymodemes MON-24, MON-29, MON-33, and a previously undescribed zymodeme MON-183, were isolated from 4 patients. The response rate to pentavalent antimony was 50% and to amphotericin B 100%, but clinical relapses were noted in both groups. In endemic areas, VL should be considered as a possible opportunistic infection in HIV-infected patients.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / complications*
  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / epidemiology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amphotericin B / therapeutic use
  • Antibodies, Protozoan / analysis
  • Antimony Sodium Gluconate / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • HIV-1*
  • Humans
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral / complications*
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral / drug therapy
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antibodies, Protozoan
  • Amphotericin B
  • Antimony Sodium Gluconate