Researchers Identify Patients Who May Benefit From More Frequent Syphilis Tests

November 29, 2021

1 min read

Source / Disclosures

Disclosures: Menza does not report any relevant financial disclosure. Please see the study for relevant financial information from all other authors.


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Researchers have identified HIV-positive patients who they believe could benefit from more frequent screening for syphilis.

They include younger cisgender men who have sex with transgender men and transgender women who have sex with men and who also inject drugs, “particularly among those who identify as Hispanic,” said reported the researchers in Clinical infectious diseases.

Timothy W. Menza

“Syphilis diagnoses have increased rapidly in the United States, and people living with HIV are more likely to be diagnosed with new or recurring syphilis compared to people without HIV. ” Timothy W. Menza, MD, PhD, the medical director of the HIV / STDs / tuberculosis section of the Oregon Health Authority told Healio. “We conducted this study to better define the optimal prioritization of syphilis screening and prevention interventions in people living with HIV. “

Menza and colleagues reviewed records of people living with HIV who received care between January 1, 2014 and November 16, 2018, from four sites in the Centers for AIDS Research Network of Integrated Clinical Systems cohort (n = 8 455). According to the study, they calculated syphilis and incident syphilis screening rates and demographic and clinical predictors of screening and diagnosis.

In total, the 8,455 participants contributed to 29,568 person-years of follow-up. Overall, the syphilis screening rate was 118 tests per 100 person-years (95% CI, 117-119), while the incident syphilis rate was 4.7 cases per 100 person-years. (95% CI, 4.5-5).

According to Menza, they observed the highest rate of syphilis incidents among young men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women who have sex with men and who inject drugs, in especially among those who identify as Hispanic. He added that incident syphilis was also more common during follow-up intervals in which participants had a detectable viral load, rectal infection and retest positive hepatitis C.

“[These groups] are more likely to be diagnosed with syphilis and therefore should be prioritized for syphilis and behavioral screening, such as e-health interventions, and biomedical interventions, such as doxycycline for pre- or post-exposure prophylaxis of sexually transmitted infections , for the prevention of sexually transmitted infections, ”says Menza.

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