Published: 2019-04-26

Clinico epidemiological study of secondary syphilis: a retrospective study from a tertiary care centre in Tamil Nadu

Vijayabhaskar Chandran, Prabahar Periyasamy, Subramanian Kalaivani


Background: Syphilis caused by spirochete Treponema pallidum is a bacterial sexually transmitted infection [STI] with protean manifestations. There is a rising trend of this disease due to changing sexual orientation and behavioural practices. The aim was to study the incidence, age, sex distribution, clinical presentation and serological findings of secondary syphilis in patients attending the Institute of Venereology in a tertiary care centre at Chennai.

Methods: Retrospective analysis of data of patients diagnosed as secondary syphilis who attended our institute over a period of 2 years from March 2015 and February 2017 was done. Complete epidemiological, clinical and investigational data were analysed.

Results: Among 57,316 patients who attended the STD clinic 459 patients were diagnosed to have syphilis. Among them 11.6% were found to have secondary syphilis with majority falling within the age group of 21 to 30 years. Among the 53 patients with secondary syphilis 94% were males, among which only 30% were married. Males having sex with males were affected more. Out of the various clinical presentations of secondary syphilis macular leisons was most commonly observed. Serological test done showed VDRL and TPHA positivity in 100% of patients with secondary syphilis.

Conclusions: There is increased prevalence of secondary syphilis among the males, especially among young unmarried males with homosexual orientation and promiscuity. Observations of this study emphasize the urgent need for implementation of programs to focus on sex education and counselling to the adolescents and young adults who tends to be the vulnerable population in the society.


Syphilis, Secondary syphilis, VDRL, Annular syphilide

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