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Sex Transm Dis. 2019 Apr;46(4):271-277. doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0000000000000964.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus Diagnosis After a Syphilis, Gonorrhea, or Repeat Diagnosis Among Males Including non-Men Who Have Sex With Men: What Is the Incidence?

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Baltimore City Health Department.
Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.



The release of the first drug for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in 2012 marked the beginning of a new era of HIV prevention. Although PrEP is highly efficacious, identifying and ultimately increasing uptake among the highest risk male subgroups remains a challenge.


Public health surveillance data from 2009 to 2016 was used to evaluate the risk of an HIV diagnosis after a syphilis (ie, primary, secondary, or early latent), gonorrhea, and repeat diagnoses among urban males, including men who have sex with men (MSM) and non-MSM in Baltimore City.


Of the 1531 males with 898 syphilis diagnoses and 1243 gonorrhea diagnoses, 6.8% (n = 104) were subsequently diagnosed with HIV. Within 2 years, 1 in 10 syphilis or gonorrhea diagnoses were followed by an HIV diagnosis among MSM, and 1 in 50 syphilis or gonorrhea diagnoses were followed by an HIV diagnosis among non-MSM. Among non-MSM with gonorrhea, the rate of HIV incidence was 5.36 (95% confidence interval, 2.37-12.14) times higher in those with (vs. without) a subsequent syphilis diagnosis or gonorrhea diagnosis.


Local health care providers should offer PrEP to MSM diagnosed with syphilis or gonorrhea and to non-MSM with a previous gonorrhea diagnosis at time of a syphilis or gonorrhea diagnosis. The high proportion and short time to an HIV diagnosis among MSM after a syphilis or gonorrhea diagnosis suggest immediate PrEP initiation.

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