STDs & Safe Sex
What is it?
A very serious bacterial infection that infects the nervous and cardiovascular systems.
How is it spread?
You can get syphilis if you come in direct contact with a syphilis sore during anal, vaginal, or oral sex. Sores can be found on the penis, vagina, anus, in the rectum, or on the lips and in the mouth.
What are the symptoms?
Syphilis has been called ‘the great imitator’ because it has so many possible symptoms, many of which look like symptoms from other diseases. The painless syphilis sore that you would get after you are first infected can be confused for an ingrown hair, zipper cut, or other seemingly harmless bump. The non-itchy body rash that develops during the second stage of syphilis can show up on the palms of your hands and soles of your feet, all over your body, or in just a few places. You could also be infected with syphilis and have very mild symptoms or none at all.
How is it harmful?
It may lead to paralysis, blindness, insanity, disfiguration, and eventual death. Can also cause severe birth defects to babies whose mothers are infected.
Am I at risk for syphilis?
While any sexually active person can get syphilis through unprotected sex, you should get tested regularly if you are pregnant, are a man who has sex with men, have HIV infection, or have a partner who has tested positive for syphilis.
Can syphilis be cured?
Yes, syphilis can be cured with the right antibiotics from your health care provider. However, treatment will not undo any damage that the infection has already done.