Endemic early syphilis among young newly diagnosed HIV-positive men in a southeastern U.S. state

AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2008 Dec;22(12):955-63. doi: 10.1089/apc.2008.0077.


An epidemic of HIV infections among college students who are primarily men who have sex with men (MSM) have been reported from North Carolina, a state with one of the highest syphilis rates in the southeastern United States. We assessed the proportion of early syphilis coinfections among young HIV-infected individuals statewide and associated risk factors. From January 2002 to July 2006, chart abstractions were performed from North Carolina surveillance records for newly diagnosed HIV-positive men 18-30 years of age reported between 2000-2005, and a subset of women in the same age group. Bivariable and multivariable analyses were conducted to assess early syphilis risk factors among HIV-infected persons. During the 6-year period, there were 1460 HIV-positive men aged 18-30 years reported in North Carolina; 90 (6.2%) were coinfected with early syphilis without a significant change over time. Data were available for 551 HIV-positive women diagnosed from 2002-2005; only 6 (1.1%) were coinfected. Fifty-five percent of coinfected men were diagnosed with both infections on the same date of evaluation. Young HIV-infected men who are black (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 2.3; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.3, 4.1), MSM (aOR 3.8; 95% CI, 1.8, 7.8), or reported sex with both genders (aOR 5.1; 95% CI, 2.2, 11.5), or anonymous sex (aOR 2.1; 95% CI, 1.3, 3.3) were more likely to have early syphilis. Although male coinfections have not increased over time, early syphilis has become endemic among young HIV-positive men statewide, emphasizing the need to provide screening for both infections among high-risk individuals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Endemic Diseases*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • North Carolina / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Southeastern United States / epidemiology
  • Syphilis* / complications
  • Syphilis* / epidemiology
  • Young Adult