Clinical and laboratory characteristics of ocular syphilis and neurosyphilis among individuals with and without HIV infection

Mathew, Dony Korah (2022)


Summary BACKGROUND/AIMS: In the era of increasing incidence of syphilis globally, ocular syphilis is re-emerging as an important cause of uveitis. The aim of this study was to determine the clinical and laboratory characteristics of ocular- and neurosyphilis among individuals with and without HIV infection. METHODS: Retrospective analysis of patients diagnosed with ocular syphilis presenting to Tygerberg Hospital, South Africa, over a 5-year period ending December 2018. RESULTS: Two-hundred-and-fifteen eyes of 146 patients were included. HIV co-infection was present in 52.1% of the patients, with 23.7% of these patients being newly diagnosed on presentation. The median age was 36.5 + 9.8 years. Bilateral involvement occurred in 47.3%; with 68.1% of these patients being HIV positive. The most frequent form of intraocular inflammation was posterior uveitis (40.9%), followed by panuveitis (38.1%); both of which were more predominant in HIV-positive eyes. Seventy-four percent of all eyes had a visual acuity < 20/50 and 40% < 20/200 at presentation. A lumbar puncture was performed in 113 patients (77.4%). Sixteen patients had confirmed neurosyphilis and 27 probable neurosyphilis according to the UpToDate algorithms. CONCLUSION: This study included the largest number of ocular syphilis cases with the largest proportion of HIV infection to date. Forty-three of 146 patients (29.5%) had neurosyphilis. HIV status must be determined in all patients with ocular syphilis since almost ¼ of patients were newly diagnosed with HIV infection by doing so.

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