Background: The co-morbidity of human immunodeficiency virus and other sexually transmitted diseases in Israel has not been established.
Objectives: To compare the prevalence of STDs among HIV-positive patients to HIV-negative patients visiting an STD clinic in northern Israel.
Methods: Between December 2000 and December 2001, 176 HIV-positive individuals (53% males) were screened and compared to 200 HIV-seronegative individuals (76% males). Demographics, symptomatology and risk factors were obtained via questionnaire. First-void urine samples were tested for the detection of Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Serum was tested for type-specific herpes simplex virus-2, hepatitis B and syphilis.
Results: Relative to the seronegative STD patients, HIV-positive patients exhibited significantly greater risk-reducing sexual behaviors such as consistent condom use [29/86 (33.7%) vs. 16/187 (8.6%), P < 0.001], and abstinence in the previous 6 months [43/125 (34%) vs. 7/185 (3.8%), P < 0.001]. Nevertheless, STD prevalence was higher among HIV-positive than HIV-negative patients (79.5% vs. 37.5%, P < 0.001). HSV-2, syphilis and HBV were more common among HIV-positive than HIV-negative patients [120/175 (68.8%)] vs. 18/200 (9%), P < 0.001)], [43/161 (26.7%) vs. 0%, P < 0.001)], [13/171 (7.6%) vs. 3/200 (1.5%), P < 0.01)], respectively. In contrast, Chlamydia and gonorrhea were more commonly found in HIV-negative patients than HIV-positive patients [3/176 (1.7%) vs.13/200 (6.5%), P < 0.05] vs. [0% vs.5/200 (2.5%), P < 0.05], respectively.
Conclusion: Despite the low risk sexual behavior of Israeli HIV patients, they had a high prevalence of chronic STDs (e.g., HSV-2, HBV and syphilis). The lower prevalence of Chlamydia and gonorrhea among HIV-immunosuppressed patients may be attributed to routine antibiotic prophylaxis against opportunistic infections. Nevertheless, as advocated by international health organizations, it appears prudent to recommend the routine screening of these asymptomatic HIV-positive patients for STD pathogens.