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Syphilis Can Speed HIV's Progression

Syphilis Can Speed HIV's Progression


Syphilis infection in HIV-positive men can cause bigger drops in CD4-cell counts and greater increases in viral loads, according to a study in the October 21 edition of the journal AIDS. More than half of 26 men studied who had detectable viral loads prior to syphilis infection experienced significant increases in viral levels after contracting the second sexually transmitted disease. Of 10 men with undetectable HIV pre-syphilis, two developed detectable virus after contracting syphilis. A mean drop of 62 CD4 cells also was reported among all the men after syphilis infection; successful treatment with antibiotics resulted in an average rebound of only 33 CD4 cells. Because syphilis coinfection seems to accelerate HIV disease progression, the researchers say integrated public-health campaigns are needed that address education and prevention for both diseases.

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