Estimated worldwide HIV infections: 53 953 874 as of Thursday September 25 2003 at 9.56am

Immune activation caused by infection with syphilis can stimulate latent reservoirs of HIV and cause viral load to rebound to low levels, according to a recent report on Aids. Researchers say syphilis should be considered as a cause of low-level rebound in patients with previously undetectable viral load.

The case concerned a gay man who had maintained an undetectable viral load for 18 months after starting highly active anti-retroviral therapy. However, low-level HIV viral load was detected on three instances at four-weekly intervals in 2001.
Without a change in HIV-treatment regimen the man’s viral load again became undetectable and has remained so for 17 months.

Coinciding with the low rebound in viral load, the patient reported low-grade fevers after several unprotected casual sexual contacts and syphilis was diagnosed.

Researchers say the man’s low-level rebound may have originated from activated reservoirs of previously infected cells.

Source:, Aidsmap

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