Viral co-infections in leprosy: a scoping review.
CONTEXT: The most reported viral co-infections in leprosy are human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), human T-cell lymphotropic virus (HTLV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and SARS-CoV-2. In co-infections, the burden of an agent can be increased or decreased by the presence of others. To address this issue, we need to fully understand their prevalence, risk factors, immunology, clinical manifestations, and treatment. The purpose of this scoping review is to describe the clinical and epidemiological characteristics of the most reported viral co-infections in leprosy to inform clinicians and guide future research.
METHODS: The authors conducted a literature search of five databases for articles on each of the aforementioned co-infections published prior to October 2022. Two independent reviewers conducted the selection process and identified 53 papers meeting the study inclusion criteria. The data extraction process and evidence synthesis were conducted by one reviewer and double-checked by a second one, consistent with best practice recommendations for scoping reviews.
RESULTS: For all assessed viruses, most studies reported prevalence rates in leprosy patients higher than the general population. Studies found that HTLV, HBV, and HCV chronic infections were highest in multibacillary leprosy, whereas HIV was mostly found in paucibacillary leprosy, and SARS-Cov-2 affected leprosy subtypes equally. Overall, co-infections were also associated with higher rates of leprosy reactions, except for COVID-19. Forty-six percent of the studies discussed issues related to treatment, which led to favorable outcomes for the most part.
CONCLUSIONS: This review summarizes the existing literature on viral co-infections in leprosy patients, generating valuable insights and recommending areas for future research.