Background AIDS remains a leading cause of mortality in Sub Saharan Africa accounting for almost half of the worlds HIV related deaths. On the other hand bacterial sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as syphilis exert a heavy toll in terms of morbidity and mortality in the developing world. Syphilis in HIV positive people may increase HIV transmissibility and adversely affect reproductive health. Diagnosis and treatment of curable STIs in HIV infected persons can aid in preventing spread to partners.
Methods AAR Health Services provides prevention, care and treatment services to the general population. Between December 2011 and December 2012, we screened and tested 4,350 patients with symptoms of genital ulcer disease, urethral and abnormal vaginal discharges to diagnose HIV and Syphilis infection. Participants were counselled before screening and testing. Serological diagnosis of HIV included the use of three rapid test kits in sequence (Determine®, Statpak® and Unigold®). Serological diagnosis of syphilis involved conducting a Treponema pallidum - specific antigen test, Treponema pallidum haemagglutination test. Persons with a positive serology were treated for syphilis with 3 intramuscular doses of 2.4 mU of benzathine penicillin administered once weekly.
Results Overall, the HIV prevalence was 8.2% while that of Syphilis was 5.4%. Syphilis was significantly more predominant among female clients as compared to male clients. The rate of HIV-syphilis co-infection was 4.2%.
Conclusions The rate of HIV-syphilis co infection among patients who attend AAR Health Services clinic is at the increase. Early screening of Syphilis and other STIs is an effective initiative for detecting and controlling treatable STIs and curbs spread of HIV to partners. A number of primary preventive interventions for HIV and syphilis need to be adopted including use of condoms and medical male circumcision in order to improve sexual and reproductive health amongst AAR clients.