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Dermatology Online Journal

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An abdominal skin lesion: to lump or split? a case presentation


Syphilis has many atypical morphologies which can present a diagnostic challenge, especially in patients with HIV/AIDS who may have multiple concurrent conditions. We describe a 41-year-old man with recently diagnosed HIV who was admitted for acute right vision loss and a diffuse rash with involvement of the palms and soles. He received diagnoses of secondary syphilis and Kaposi sarcoma in the setting of AIDS. Examination revealed an unusual dark brown-to-purple umbilicated papule with a necrotic center on the abdomen, raising a diagnostic dilemma. Skin biopsy showed secondary syphilis, despite the concurrent diagnosis of Kaposi sarcoma. The patient was treated with antibiotic and antiretroviral therapy and symptoms resolved. This case aims to share the clinical reasoning behind diagnosing a patient with HIV/AIDS with multiple concurrent conditions and to raise awareness of the many atypical cutaneous manifestations of secondary syphilis.

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