Syphilis & HIV

Does Syphilis pose special problems for people with HIV?
Yes! A lot of men getting syphilis also have HIV. Like all men, the kind of sex you have affects your risk for syphilis. For some men with HIV/AIDS a weakened immune system can make it more likely you'll pick up syphilis. Having HIV can mean the symptoms of syphilis are more severe and it can take longer to treat. Your HIV viral load can go up as your body tries to fight both HIV and syphilis, putting your immune system under more strain. This could also make it easier for you to pass on HIV to your sex partners.

People with HIV also may have increased risk for neurosyphilis, syphilis complications involving the brain and nervous system. Therefore, if you have HIV and are treated for syphilis, it is important that you follow up carefully with a doctor to make sure your syphilis infection has been successfully cured. People with HIV sometimes have unusual results (higher or lower than they should be) on syphilis blood tests, which can make syphilis harder to diagnose. Syphilis symptoms may also be mistaken as something to do with having HIV and your doctor might not check for sexually transmitted infections during your regular check-ups. So if you have HIV/AIDS and are sexually active, get tested for syphilis especially if you've not had one in the last 6 months.