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Syphilis serology in human immunodeficiency virus infection: evidence for false-negative fluorescent treponemal testing.


J Infect Dis. 1997 Nov;176(5):1397-400. Unique Identifier : AIDSLINE

Injection drug users were assessed serologically for human immunodeficiency virus infection and syphilis every 6 months. Treatment histories were reviewed for any high-titer biologic false-positive (BFP) reactors, that is, persons with rapid plasma reagin (RPR) titers > or = 1:4 and negative results for fluorescent treponemal antibody absorption (FTA-ABS) tests. Selected sera were analyzed further by immunoblotting for the presence of antibodies reactive with specific Treponema pallidum antigens. Of 112 BFP reactors, 35 (31%) had at least one RPR test reactive at a dilution >1:8 while the FTA-ABS test remained nonreactive. Five reactors (4.5%) converted from nonreactive to reactive by FTA-ABS test; 4 (3.6%) were reactive by FTA-ABS tests but later became nonreactive. Antibodies to T. pallidum membrane antigens were detected in some samples that were persistently nonreactive by FTA-ABS test. Serologic patterns over time, along with very high-titer BFP reactions and reactivity with T. pallidum-specific antigens, suggest that some BFP reactions may represent FTA-negative syphilis.

*Antibodies, Bacterial/BLOOD *HIV Infections/IMMUNOLOGY *Substance Abuse, Intravenous/COMPLICATIONS *Syphilis/DIAGNOSIS *Treponema pallidum/IMMUNOLOGY


Information in this article was accurate in January 30, 1998. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.