Background Concomitant HIV and syphilis infections are prevalent among the same risk groups. Increases in syphilis cases among men who have sex with men (MSM) have been characterised by high rates of HIV co-infection. Our objectives were to compare demographic characteristics and percentage of persons diagnosed with Early syphilis (ES) and co-infected with HIV between 2006–2011.
Methods Surveillance data for ES (Primary, Secondary, Early Latent stages) and HIV cases reported to the Chicago Department of Public Health (CPDH) were analysed retrospectively using SAS version 9.3(2). Newly identified HIV infection was defined by earliest diagnosis date of HIV in the Enhanced HIV/AIDS Reporting System (eHars).
Results Between 2006–2011, there were 4,542 reported ES cases among 3,929 individuals; 40% (1,562/3,929) of individuals were matched to records in eHars. A total of 735 HIV infections occurred from 2006–2011: 52% (384) were co-infected from 2006–2008 and 48% (351) from 2009–2011. Despite decline in the number of HIV infections after syphilis diagnosis from 384 to 351 (–8.6%), the proportion of co-infected MSM from 2006–2008 and 2009–2011 remained stable at 92% and 91%, respectively. By race, the proportion of co-infected Black MSM increased from 54.2% to 57.1%, while the proportion of Whites remained stable (24.2% and 25.2%, respectively) and Hispanics declined (15.4% and 12.1%, respectively). Despite declines by race for most age categories, the number of co-infected Black MSM ages 13–24 increased by 29.2% and the number of co-infected White MSM ages 45–54 increased by 75%.
Conclusions Despite an overall decline in HIV co-infections, the proportion of co-infection remained stable among MSM with an increase in the percentages in HIV sero-prevalence among Black MSM ages 13–24 and White MSM age 45–54, identifying them as a critical target group for STI/HIV prevention efforts.
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