Category Archives: Syphilis

Video – Syphillis and AIDS in the 1980s

RTB: A fascinating look back at a confusing and conflicted era; this video by Colman Jones takes a deep look at the many problems and processes, and multiple infections driving early AIDS or GRID-type immune suppression. Of note is the role of undiagnosed syphilis, as well as the danger of antibiotic use for immune suppression. Continue reading Video – Syphillis and AIDS in the 1980s

Syphilis and Aids – the Great Imitator

A Call for a Re-evaluation of the AIDS Dogma
By Matt Sullivan / RCFP

A paper about to be published in a scientific journal raises the intriguing possibility that many AIDS cases are in fact misdiagnosed cases of syphilis. The paper was authored by an International group of scientists led by National Academy of Sciences member Lynn Margulis, of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Wolfgang E. Krumbein, professor of Geo-microbiology in Oldenburg, Germany.

The paper, titled Spirochete round bodies. Syphilis, Lyme disease & AIDS: Resurgence of “the great imitator,” will be published in SYMBIOSIS V47, No.1, 2009. Continue reading Syphilis and Aids – the Great Imitator

Syphilis Shocker

Is there AIDS clue in “negative” tests that come back positive?

Colman Jones, NOW Toronto, 2000, Vol 19, No. 48

Ontario health officials have made a shocking discovery that threatens to blow the roof off conventional thinking about a dangerous sexually-transmitted infection — syphilis — and how to test for it among people at risk for AIDS.

In a presentation at this year’s meeting of the American Society of Microbiology, Neal denHollander, who directs research at the Public Health Laboratory of Ontario, showed how a new type of syphilis test found otherwise undetected cases in nearly five per cent of samples from STP clinics including the Hassle Free Clinic on Church.

These were positive results in samples that showed up negative in the regular screening test.
Continue reading Syphilis Shocker

Rise in syphilis rate creates fear of AIDS spike: Most cases among gay, bisexual men

San Francisco Chronicle – Friday, November 1, 2002
Christopher Heredia, Chronicle Staff Writer

Reversing a 10-year trend, syphilis rates rose nationally in 2001, raising concerns that the spread of the sexually transmitted disease could lead to a resurgence of HIV infections, federal health officials said Thursday.

While the number of new infections went up only slightly, by 2 percent, or 124 cases — to 6,103 in 2001 from 5,979 in 2000 — experts expressed concern because syphilis sores make one more susceptible to transmitting HIV.
Continue reading Rise in syphilis rate creates fear of AIDS spike: Most cases among gay, bisexual men

AIDS in the 1990s: More Questions than Answers

by Colman Jones

As scientists prepare for yet another AIDS conference, the outlook remains unremittingly bleak. Despite billions of dollars worth of research over the last decade, a cure or preventive vaccine for AIDS remains out of reach. This impasse, coupled with a rising infection rate in the Third World, have led both medical researchers and AIDS activists to become increasingly frustrated with the pace of scientific progress against this killer.

Complicating the research effort are nagging unanswered questions: it remains unclear how HIV, the virus most scientists believe causes AIDS, destroys the immune system. There’s no consistent strain that’s always associated with the disease. Powerful anti- HIV treatments, such as AZT, are disappointing failures.

Even Luc Montagnier, the French scientist whose team originally discovered HIV, no longer believes the virus is sufficient to bring on the disease by itself, and has long called for research into possible “co-factors”. Indeed, the rate at which different groups of HIV-positive people develop AIDS, and the astonishing diversity of symptoms, suggest that something more than HIV is at work. Continue reading AIDS in the 1990s: More Questions than Answers

‘The Great Scourge’: Syphilis as a medical problem and moral metaphor, 1880-1916

Lesley A. Hall
Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, London

This paper was written for the Courtauld Institute Symposium, 23 May 1998, on ‘Le Grand Mort. Twentieth Century Bodies, Sexuality, Death and Degeneracy’. Some of the material also appears in my chapter on VD in the UK from the Contagious Diseases Acts to the National Health Service, and in the Introduction, in Roger Davidson and Lesley A. Hall (eds), Sex, Sin and Suffering: Venereal Disease and European Society Since 1870 (Routledge, 2001). However, the approach is sufficiently different (and there is material here which does not appear in SSS), that I am leaving this paper available on-line.

Why did syphilis become such a reverberating topic around the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries? Was this simply because it clearly encoded several resonant anxieties around sex and gender at a time of ever-accelerating social change and increasing threats to the self-confidence of the ‘advanced’ Western nations which throughout the nineteenth century had regarded themselves as at the pinnacle of evolution?

Syphilis certainly provided a potent metaphor for a plethora of moral concerns, but at the end of the nineteenth century also stood as a ghastly reminder of the inadequacies of medical and sanitary science. The nineteenth century had seen many successes in the war against disease: improved sanitation and water supplies had largely eradicated the epidemics of typhoid and cholera which had seemed so devastating in the earlier decades of the century. Isolation hospitals further prevented the wildfire spread of infectious diseases, while vaccination (albeit a contested practice) had made significant inroads towards eradicating this dangerous and disfiguring ailment.
Continue reading ‘The Great Scourge’: Syphilis as a medical problem and moral metaphor, 1880-1916

Syphilis spikes upward in SF

Published 10/02/2008
by Matthew S. Bajko

Syphilis is on the rise again in San Francisco, a reversal of years of declining rates first noted three years ago.

From January through August of this year, the city reported 341 early syphilis cases, a 54 percent increase over the same period in 2007. Including late latent cases of the STD brings the total up to 409 total cases of syphilis so far this year, compared to 305 during the first eight months of 2007.

At the current rate, health officials estimate there will be 493 early syphilis cases in 2008, the greatest number since 2005, when the health department documented 551 cases.

“I am very concerned about this recent increase because it comes after three years of consistent and steady declines,” said Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, the health department’s director of STD control.
Continue reading Syphilis spikes upward in SF

Neurosyphilis, Then and Now


P&S Medical Review: Apr 1995, Vol.2, No.2

H. Houston Merritt and Leonidas Stefanis, M.D. and Lewis P. Rowland, M.D.
Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, N.Y.

Houston Merritt was the Chair of Neurology at Columbia-Presbyterian from 1948 to 1967. He was Dean of the College of Physicians and Surgeons from 1958 to 1969. His legacy as a teacher of neurology extended throughout the United States because 30 of his st udents headed departments at medical centers from coast to coast. At that time, one-third of all Neurology chairs had trained with Merritt and some members of that cohort have not yet retired. Merritt also wrote a Textbook of Neurology;1he was the sole author of that book for five editions. As the book increased in size with the accumulation of clinical knowledge, he reluctantly accepted the aid of others. The ninth edition of the text book was published in February 1995. Merritt’s influence as teacher is still strong. Continue reading Neurosyphilis, Then and Now

Syphilis and AIDS: The Ominous Prospect

Spin Magazine, 2000
by Colman Jones

This is the final draft of an article originally commissioned for SPIN Magazine’s “AIDS: Words from the Front” Column. Editing by Alyssa Katz.

In the AIDS era, it’s easy to forget that sex has always been fraught with complications. Before the release of penicillin during World War II, syphilis evoked particularly widespread terror, thanks to its ability to lie dormant, undetected, producing hideous and often life-threatening symptoms years later.

“Duties of the Health Department in Syphilis Control” – Public Health Service Poster, c. 1945 The fear 50 or 75 years ago of acquiring syphilis was not all that different from the fear of getting AIDS today. As seventysomething author Gore Vidal explained in a 1992 interview in Vanity Fair, “It’s very difficult for younger people to understand. We are the syphilis generation before penicillin. Every time we fucked, no matter what we fucked, there was the danger of syphilis, and of a hideous death, and of never knowing you had it until you suddenly began to have grotesque symptoms.”
Continue reading Syphilis and AIDS: The Ominous Prospect