Island Sexual Health Society Be informed, not surprised!

Syphilis

2006 June 29

Syphilis is a serious “sexually transmitted infection (STI/STD) “:/infections/ caused by the bacterium _Treponema pallidum_. It can cause major health problems throughout your body if left untreated.

“Make an appointment”:/about/appointments/ at any of our clinics in Greater Victoria to get tested for syphilis, or to find out more.

* “How syphilis spreads”:#spread
* “Syphilis prevention”:#prevent
* “Syphilis symptoms”:#symptoms
* “Risks of untreated syphilis”:#risks
* “Syphilis tests and diagnosis”:#tests
* “Syphilis treatment”:#treatment

For further reading, see our “links and other resources”:/resources/external/.

h3(#spread). How syphilis spreads

Syphilis is currently uncommon in Canada, but has been becoming more common in the last decade.

* Syphilis is transmitted through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex with an infected partner.
* An infected mother can pass it on to her baby during pregnancy.

h3(#prevent). Syphilis prevention

To prevent syphilis, use good “sex safety”:/sex-safety/ skills including regular “infection screening”:/infections/.

* Use “condoms”:/sex-safety/using-condoms to reduce the risk of syphilis during vaginal and anal sex.
* Use condoms and “dental dams”:/sex-safety/dental-dams to prevent transmission during oral sex.
* “Make an appointment”:/about/appointments/ to get tested for syphilis.

h3(#symptoms). Syphilis symptoms

Symptoms vary greatly throughout the stages of syphilis; some people have no symptoms at all but are still infectious.

* Some develop a painless sore on the genitals, anus or inside the mouth.
* Some develop flu-like symptoms and/or a rash, both of which go away, despite the infection remaining.
* Late stages of untreated syphilis can cause major damage throughout the body.

h3(#risks). Risks of untreated syphilis

The late stages of untreated syphilis can cause major damage to many parts of the body including the the cardiovascular system, the brain and nervous system, and other organs such as eyes and ears. This damage can result in serious illnesses, mental health problems and even death.

h3(#tests). Syphilis tests and diagnosis

Syphilis is usually diagnosed with a blood test. Sometimes when there is an obvious sore it can be swabbed and sent to the lab for testing.

h3(#treatment). Syphilis treatment

* Syphilis can be treated and cured with antibiotics in the early stages.
* Damage caused to body systems in the later stages cannot be reversed.
* all recent sex partners (previous 60 days ) need to be treated