Syphilis is a bacterial infection that is spread through sexual contact. The disease results in sores on or near the mouth or the genital area of the infected person. If not treated early, syphilis can lead to serious health consequences.
Syphilis is a common sexually transmitted disease. The most common symptom of syphilis is an open sore, which is generally referred to as a chancre. If you have syphilis symptoms, have had sexual contact with someone with syphilis, or are in an at-risk group for the disease, you can confirm your status with a simple blood test.
Testing is the only way to confirm a syphilis diagnosis.
Who is at risk for syphilis?
Anyone that is sexually active may be at risk for syphilis. According to the CDC, anyone that is sexually active and is in one of the following groups is considered to be at higher risk:
→ Pregnant Women
→ Sexually active men who have sex with men
→ HIV positive
→ People taking PrEP for HIV prevention
What are the symptoms of syphilis?
The most common symptoms of syphilis are painless sores on or around the genitals, anus, or mouth, or a rash on the palms or soles of the feet. However, it is important to note that the symptoms of syphilis may vary depending on the stage of the disease. During later stages of syphilis, there may not be any visible signs or symptoms. Therefore, it is critical to be tested early to receive proper treatment for the disease before it progresses.
How can you prevent syphilis?
The best way to prevent syphilis is through abstinence and by practicing safe sex. Additionally, if you are sexually active, regular testing and discussing your history with your sexual partner can also help to prevent the spread of the disease.
How is syphilis treated?
Syphilis can be treated and cured through the proper use of antibiotics. For the best results, it is critical that syphilis be diagnosed early and that medication be taken as directed. Although antibiotics can cure the disease, medication cannot treat any side effects that have been caused by syphilis.
Additionally, it is important to note that you can still be infected with syphilis at a later time even after it has already been cured. Continue to take precautions after you have been cured and discuss with your physician how regularly you should be tested. If you are sexually active, your physician may recommend that you continue testing on a yearly basis.
Low Risk Patient → Negative for Syphilis
High Risk Patient → Negative but cannot exclude early Syphilis infection. Retest in 2-4 weeks if clinically warranted.
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