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Clin Infect Dis. 2015 Jul 15;61(2):281-7. doi: 10.1093/cid/civ289. Epub 2015 Apr 13.

The high risk of an HIV diagnosis following a diagnosis of syphilis: a population-level analysis of New York City men.

Author information

Bureau of Sexually Transmitted Disease Control.
Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York.
Bureau of Sexually Transmitted Disease Control Division of STD Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia.



Epidemiologic studies have shown that syphilis is associated with risk for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. We used population-level syphilis and HIV data to quantify HIV incidence among men following primary or secondary (P&S) syphilis diagnoses and identify the highest-risk subgroups for intensified prevention, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis with antiretroviral medications.


Male cases reported to the New York City HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) surveillance registries were matched using a deterministic algorithm. We measured HIV incidence following P&S syphilis diagnosed between 2000 and June 2010 and identified risk factors for HIV infection using Cox proportional hazards models.


Of 2805 men with syphilis contributing 11 714 person-years of follow-up, 423 (15.1%) acquired HIV; annual incidence was 3.61% (95% confidence interval [CI], 3.27%, 3.97%). HIV incidence was high among: men who have sex with men (MSM) (5.56%, 95% CI, 5.02%-6.13%); males with secondary compared with primary syphilis (4.10% vs 2.64%, P < .0001); and males diagnosed with another bacterial STD after syphilis (7.89%, 95% CI, 6.62%-9.24%).


HIV incidence among men diagnosed with syphilis is high; one in 20 MSM were diagnosed with HIV within a year. Our data have implications for syphilis and HIV screening and may be useful for further targeting HIV-negative populations for pre-exposure prophylaxis.


HIV incidence; syphilis

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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