WHAT IS IT?
Syphilis is an STD caused by a bacteria that enters the body through the skin during sex or close physical contact with an infected partner. Common sites of infection in men occur on the mouth, penis or the butt.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
- Primary Syphilis
2-4 weeks old so after exposure, a red, painless ulcer (chancre) will appear on the penis, just inside the butt, in the vagina or in the mouth. If the chancre appears just inside the butt, in the vagina or in the mouth. It can be easily overlooked. This chancre will weep clear, very infectious fluid for 3 to 8 weeks and then will heal even without treatment.
- Secondary and Tertiary (Third Stage) Syphilis
Syphilis bacteria spreads throughout the body, leading to secondary syphilis. Secondary syphilis symptoms include fever, joint pains, fatigue, liver problems, enlarged lymph nodes, eye problems, and a copper colored skin rash on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. These symptoms will also disappear without treatment. A sexual partner in secondary syphilis is STILL VERY INFECTIOUS. Without treatment, tertiary syphilis can occur many years later. attacking the brain and heart, destroying vision and hearing and leading to insanity and possibly death.
WHY SHOULD I CARE?
Because many symptoms of syphilis can be overlooked or misdiagnosed, there is a risk of ongoing syphilis infection which may not be caught until serious illness and damage to the body occurs. Either partner having a chancre can increase HIV transmission 2 to 5 times. Syphilis is highly treatable with medication if caught. If you have or ever remember having a chancre, or are having any of the symptoms of syphilis, get screened! It could save your life.
HOW DO I GET IT?
By having sex or close skin to skin contact with someone with syphilis sores or rash. Using a condom during anal and oral sex can reduce the risk but not eliminate it completely. If a male sex partner has a chancre on the base of his penis, a condom may not protect you and bacteria can even be spread during sex play and on sex toys. If you have a chancre and your sex partner has HIV, your risk of acquiring HIV is greatly increased. Soap and water can easily kill syphilis bacteria, so it’s a good idea to shower after sex.
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
A blood test is required to diagnose syphilis. If treated in a timely manner, syphilis is easily curable with antibiotics.