Necrotizing Retinitis Due to Syphilis in a Patient With AIDS

IDCases. 2016 Aug 21;6:17-9. doi: 10.1016/j.idcr.2016.08.005. eCollection 2016.


The ocular manifestations of syphilis are varied. Ocular syphilis can occur during any stage of infection and involve virtually any part of the eye. In immunocompetent individuals, the most common etiologies include syphilitic uveitis. Although the clinical presentation of ocular syphilis in HIV-infected patients is also widespread, posterior segment involvement has been more commonly described particularly in patients with AIDS. The diagnosis of syphilitic retinitis is challenging since its clinical presentation mimics retinitis caused by other viral etiologies. In addition, HIV-infected individuals with syphilis are more likely to develop aberrant serologic responses. Recognition of syphilitic retinitis and prompt initiation of penicillin therapy is of critical importance since syphilitic retinitis generally responds well to treatment and loss of vision is reversible. In this report, we describe a 39-year-old female with advanced stages of AIDS who developed necrotizing retinitis due to syphilis. Prompt initiation of intravenous penicillin led to excellent visual outcome for this patient despite significantly decreased visual acuity on presentation.

Keywords: HIV; Retinitis; Syphilis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports