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HIV patients may be at greater risk for neurological complications from syphilis

Category: Infectious Diseases

Patients with HIV may be more likely to have neurological complications from syphilis infections, according to a new study. Of the patients studied, a large majority showed indications of having neurosyphilis, a condition that generally develops in patients with the long-untreated sexually transmitted disease syphilis.

Patients with HIV and syphilis
The study, from the Hospital of Infectious Diseases, AIDS Diagnosis and Therapy Center in Warsaw, Poland, was presented at the 14th European AIDS Conference in Brussels. Researchers examined 73 HIV-positive men with early syphilis between the ages of 23 and 58 and found that 92 percent of them showed signs of neurosyphilis. Lab tests were conducted to study cerebrospinal fluid examination in the patients.

The results indicate that syphilis infections may be much stronger in patients diagnosed with HIV from STD tests. While the results were not conclusive since it was a relatively small testing group, they still show that doctors may need to be cautious of those with HIV and syphilis. Expansive STD testing should be done on all patients with HIV/AIDS, as untreated combinations of STDs can be very deadly to those with diminished immune systems.

Typical neurosyphilis infections
Neurosyphilis generally appears between 10 and 20 years after the initial syphilis infection if the disease is left untreated. In the cases of the men in the study, the disease appeared much earlier. Those diagnosed with the disease may experience an array of symptoms including blindness, an inability to walk, confusion, depression and other symptoms, noted MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Prompt treatment of the initial syphilis infection can prevent instances of neurosyphilis.

Treatment for neurosyphilis includes high doses of antibiotics over a period of 10 to 14 days, often through a combination of intravenous and oral means. While this disease can be difficult to treat, earlier syphilis infections are simpler. Those who think they may have syphilis or another STD should consider a lab test online, which can reveal the status of a wide variety of common STDs, including gonorrhea and chlamydia.

With proper treatment, any complications from these diseases can be avoided, especially in people with compromised immune systems, which can allow these STDs to become potentially life-threatening.

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