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CORRESPONDENCE
Year : 2008  |  Volume : 26  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 199-200
 

Prevalence of syphilis and biological false positive reactions in VDRL test among injecting drug users: A preliminary study


Department of Microbiology, Govt. Medical College, Amritsar, Punjab -143 001, India

Date of Submission26-Sep-2007
Date of Acceptance08-Oct-2007

Correspondence Address:
N Jindal
Department of Microbiology, Govt. Medical College, Amritsar, Punjab -143 001
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0255-0857.40547

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How to cite this article:
Jindal N, Aggarwal A. Prevalence of syphilis and biological false positive reactions in VDRL test among injecting drug users: A preliminary study. Indian J Med Microbiol 2008;26:199-200

How to cite this URL:
Jindal N, Aggarwal A. Prevalence of syphilis and biological false positive reactions in VDRL test among injecting drug users: A preliminary study. Indian J Med Microbiol [serial online] 2008 [cited 2019 Sep 23];26:199-200. Available from: http://www.ijmm.org/text.asp?2008/26/2/199/40547


Dear editor,

Injecting drug users (IDUs) are a population at increased risk of developing syphilis. In developing countries screening for syphilis is done by non-treponemal tests (VDRL/RPR). Asymptomatic persons and patients with atypical presentations require confirmation by treponemal tests like Treponema pallidum haemagglutination (TPHA). VDRL is a standardised, economical, sensitive and easy to perform test but one major problem with this test is that it is associated with false positive reactions. Foreign studies on IDUs have reported more than 10% incidence of false positive results. [1] There is paucity of similar studies in India. Therefore the present study was conducted to address this issue.

Serum samples collected from 150 IDUs (April 2003-March 2005) were subjected to VDRL test by standard method. Samples reactive in VDRL test were then subjected to TPHA test (TPHA-200 Kit, Kentford, UK). The samples reactive in both the VDRL and TPHA tests were interpreted as positive for syphilis.

Out of 150 serum samples tested, 6 (4%) were found to be reactive by VDRL test. The antibody titre was >8 in two (R32; R128) and <8 in the remaining four. TPHA test was reactive in 2(1.3%). These two TPHA reactive samples were also reactive in VDRL test in titre >8. Therefore, the prevalence of syphilis in IDUs on the basis of positive VDRL and TPHA test was 1.3% (2/150). This is lower than the prevalence rates reported in studies carried out in Delhi (6.09%), [2] Germany (3.3%) and Bangladesh (23%). [3] The possible explanation for this could be the difference in the subgroup of population studied and the diagnostic tests employed. In addition, region, gender, ethnic factors and socioeconomic factors which influence the development of sexual behaviour do play a big role in the prevalence of syphilis.

It has been reported that more than 10% of injecting drug users have false positive test results in titres >8. [4] However, we observed false positive reactions in only 2.7% IDUs and that too in titre <8. The present study thus shows that in our financially constrained set-up VDRL test can be reliably employed for screening of IDUs. However, studies on larger scale are required to reach exact conclusion.

 
 ~ References Top

1.Stoner BP. Treponemal infection in HIV disease, Chapter 27. In : Manual of HIV Therapeutics, 1st ed. Powderly WG, editor. Lippincott-Raven: Phildelphia; 1997. p. 215.  Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Baveja UK, Chattopadhya D, Khera P, Joshi PL. A cross-sectional serological study of the coinfection of Hepatitis B virus, Hepatitis C virus and Human Immunodeficiecy virus amongst a cohort of IDUs at Delhi. Indian J Med Microbiol 2003;21:280-3.  Back to cited text no. 2    
3.Scherbaum N, Baune BT, Mikolajezyk R, Kuhlmann T, Reymann G, Reker M. Prevalence and risk factors of syphilis infection among drug addicts. BMC Infect Dis 2005;5:33-8.  Back to cited text no. 3    
4.Larsen SA, Narris SJ, Steiner BM, Rudolph AH. Syphilis and related treponematosis, Chapter 34. In : Topley and Wilson's Microbiology and Microbial Infections, 9 th ed. Collier L, Balows A, Sussman M, editors. Oxford University Press: New York; 1996. p. 649.  Back to cited text no. 4    




 

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