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Case Reports in Infectious Diseases
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 4983504, 6 pages
Case Report

Challenges in Treating Secondary Syphilis Osteitis in an Immunocompromised Patient with a Penicillin Allergy: Case Report and Review of the Literature

1Department of Internal Medicine, University of Florida-Jacksonville, 655 W 8th Street, Jacksonville, FL 32209, USA
2Department of Pathology, University of Florida-Jacksonville, 655 W 8th Street, Jacksonville, FL 32209, USA

Received 14 March 2016; Revised 21 April 2016; Accepted 4 May 2016

Academic Editor: Antonella Marangoni

Copyright © 2016 Robert Ali et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection that remains fairly commonplace. The introduction of penicillin aided in curbing the incidence of disease; however, with the advent of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), syphilis is now on a resurgence with sometimes curious presentations. We present a case of a 36-year-old Caucasian gentleman with untreated HIV who complained of a skin eruption and joint pains for 6 weeks, prompting the diagnosis of secondary syphilis osteitis. Skin lesions were reminiscent of “malignant” syphilis. CD4 count was 57 cells/μL. RPR was elevated with 1 : 64 titer and positive confirmatory TP-PA. Radiography of the limbs revealed polyostotic cortical irregularities corroborated on bone scintigraphy. The patient had an unknown penicillin allergy and was unwilling to conduct a trial of penicillin-based therapy. He was subsequently treated with doxycycline 100 mg twice daily for 6 weeks and commenced antiretroviral therapy, noting dramatic improvement in both the skin lesions and joint pains. Unfortunately, he defaulted on follow-up, precluding serial RPR and bone imaging. Penicillin allergies have proven to be quite a conundrum in such patients, without much recourse for alternative therapy. Doxycycline with/without azithromycin is other options worth considering.