A Prospective Study of Syphilis and HIV Infection among Injection Drug Users Receiving Methadone in the Bronx, NY

Gourevich, M., Hartel, D., Schoenbaum, E.E., Selwyn, P.A., Davenny, K., Friedland, G.H. & Klein, R.S.
American Journal of Public Health, Aug 96 Part 1 of 2, Vol. 86 Issue 8, p1112-1115, 4p.

The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between syphilis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in injection drug users. Methods. A 6-year prospective study of 790 injection drug users receiving methadone maintenance treatment in the Bronx, NY, was conducted. Results. Sixteen percent (4/25) of HIV-seroconverting patients, 4.8% (16/335) of prevalent HIV-seropositive patients, and 3.5% (15/430) of persistently HIV-seronegative patients were diagnosed with syphilis. Incidence rates for early syphilis (cases per 1000 person-years) were 15.9 for HIV-seroconverting patients, 8.9 for prevalent HIV-seropositive patients, and 2.9 for persistently HIV-seronegative patients. Early syphilis incidence was higher among women than men (8.4 vs 3.2 cases per 1000 person-years). Independent risks for early syphilis included multiple sex partners, HIV seroconversion, paid sex, and young age. All HIV seroconverters with syphilis were female. Conclusions. Diagnosis of syphilis in drug-using women reflects high-risk sexual activity and is associated with acquiring HIV infection. Interventions to reduce the risk of sexually acquired infections are urgently needed among female drug users.

Wagner Faculty