Objectives: To assess the effect of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 and syphilis coinfection on HIV-ribonucleic acid (RNA) viral load, CD4 cell count, and the response in rapid plasmin reagin (RPR) to treatment of the syphilis infection.
Study design: Cases of syphilis diagnosed during 1 year in HIV-infected patients in Copenhagen were included. HIV-RNA, CD4 cell counts, and RPR-serology were measured before, during, and after syphilis.
Results: Forty-one patients were included. CD4 cell count decreased significantly during infection in patients with primary and secondary stages of syphilis (mean 106 cells/mm, P = 0.03). Treatment of syphilis was associated with an increase in the CD4 cell count and a decrease in HIV-RNA in the overall group (mean 66 cells/mm and -0.261 RNA log10 copies/ml, P = 0.02 and 0.04). The serological response rates for 15 patients treated with penicillin and 25 treated with doxycycline were the same.
Conclusion: Syphilis was associated with a decrease in CD4 cell counts and an increase in HIV-RNA levels that both improved after treatment of syphilis.