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Abstract

Background  With the increasing incidence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and immunosuppressive therapy, the incidence of syphilis has been increasing. Given the fact that the above conditions may mask or obscure the usual clinical signs and symptoms of syphilis, a means of enhanced detection is essential.

Aims methods  The purpose of this study was to determine whether an immunoperoxidase method using an antibody against treponemes would increase the sensitivity and specificity of diagnosis in biopsies of patients with secondary syphilis. This was compared to serology and silver stain in cases of known syphilis.

Results  Immunoperoxidase for treponemes was at least as sensitive (9/10) as pathology (9/10), and more sensitive than conventional silver stain (6/10) or serology (7/10).

Conclusions  In those equivocal cases of secondary syphilis, where confirmation is essential, immunoperoxidase for treponemes may be a useful adjunct.