Human immunodeficiency virus and Treponema pallidum infections in Nigerian patients with leprosy.
Fifty-one patients were selected from 4 leprosaria in eastern Nigeria and were examined for evidence of syphilis. They were screened serologically for treponemal and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections. Information about their sexual behaviour and demographic data were obtained to determine the factors associated with increased risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STD). They were compared with 115 controls. The results showed that positive treponemal tests were more common in those patients living outside the leprosaria (P < 0.05). Age and sex of the patients living inside the leprosaria were not factors associated with treponemal infections. Leprosy appeared to be a factor for T. pallidum infection when compared with the control group (P < 0.05; OR 476; CI 1.16, 19.5). One leprosy patient and one control subject had positive HIV tests and there was no significant association between leprosy and HIV infection. These findings suggest the possibility of the spread of sexually transmitted diseases amongst the leprosy patient population. The importance with respect to control measures is that leprosy patients living outside leprosaria may constitute a potential reservoir for introducing sexually transmitted diseases into the leprosaria.