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Purpose of review: This review summarizes the current knowledge on human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (hereinafter called HIV)/protozoan co-infections in the case of three important, although neglected, tropical diseases: malaria, trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease) and leishmaniasis. The HIV pandemic has modified the immunopathogenic, epidemiological and therapeutic aspects of these human diseases.

Recent findings: In-vitro data suggests that HIV favors Leishmania infection, whereas different parasites have contrasting effects on HIV. However, many of the previous models are a limited representation of the complex interactions within the host; this situation is particularly the case when microbial products are used in place of live parasites.

Summary: In the host, protozoan parasites generally enhance HIV replication and accelerate AIDS progression. HIV alters parasite pathogenesis, often worsening disease outcome. These aspects bring significant complications for the treatment of co-infected individuals.

(C) 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.