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Syphilis
Nov 21, 2011

2 weeks ago I was notified by the health dept that someone who had tested positive for Syphilis listed me as someone who may be at risk because of a sexual encounter. The case manager said he had been infected for over a year and there was little chance of transmission but that I still should be tested. The next day I visited the health dept and described my history. HIV+ for 4 years, on meds, undetectable, CD4 over 900. They drew blood and recommended a penicillin shot. I agreed. 1 week later I received a call saying the blood test was reactive and that the doctor thought I may have been infected for at least 1 year and that I should come in for 2 more shots. I have received the second 1 and will receive the third this week. The more I think about this the more confused I am. I was tested for Syphilis about 18 months ago and was negative. I have had no symptoms, whether a chancre, rash, fever or swollen glands. My viral load has always been undetectable and my CD4 count has done nothing but increase. Could there be a false negative? I want to know my test results. What should I ask for? What is my prognosis...and should I just get over it? Sorry for the long question and thanks for your help.

Response from Mr. Cordova

Hi there:

Thanks for writing in. There are a few different tests to screen for Syphilis, and all have varying degrees of accuracy depending on what stage the infection is in. In regards to a lack of symptoms, many people are asymptomatic, meaning they show no signs or symptoms. Also, we can't be sure of when the actual infection happened, so even though you were negative for Syphilis 18 months ago, you could have acquired the infection 17 months ago. Rest assured, the course of treatment will take care of the infection and you will be OK.

I hope this helps.

In health, Richard



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