Scientists: ART might increase the risk of acquiring syphilis infection
Syphilis is spreading at a high rate among homosexual and bisexual men infected with HIV-1. Scientists explain this as being due to the fact that antiretroviral therapy (ART) creates susceptibility for acquiring Treponema pallidum, the bacteria which causes the development of syphilis.
According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, the recent surge in syphilis incidence which has been observed throughout the world among men who have sex with men (MSM), many of whom are taking ART, might be caused by those very medications that are treating HIV. First, the scientific world explained this trend as a result of more risky sexual behavior of men who consider the intake of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) sufficient protection against STDs. However, it was noted that the incidence of syphilis is rising faster than that of gonorrhea, chlamydia and other STDs. Review of published works and the development of a mathematical model of HIV-1 and Treponema pallidum spread in risk groups allowed scientists to trace the connection between the use of HAART and the increased risk of acquiring syphilis infection. The authors stated that the active ingredients of HAART may alter the body's immune response, increasing the patient's susceptibility to syphilis. Scientists emphasize the need for further study of the potential connection of antiretroviral therapy and the person’s susceptibility to Treponema pallidum.