Syphilis

What is syphilis?

 

Syphilis is a bacterial infection that can be spread through vagina, anal, and oral intercourse. It may also be spread from an infected mother to the unborn baby. If left untreated, it may lead to serious health issues.

 

Syphilis is common amongst all sexually active people, in particular men who have sex with men (MSM).

 

What are the stages of syphilis?

 

Syphilis can be divided into primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary stages. Symptoms vary according to each stage.

 

In the primary stage, symptoms may include flu-like symptoms such as fever, tiredness, loss of appetite and weight. Chancres, or sores, may also be found at the genitals, mouth, or anus. However, patients may not notice these lesions as they are painless. He/she/they are highly infectious during this stage.

 

In the secondary stage, rashes may be found all over the body including the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Patients may also experience flu-like symptoms. This stage usually occurs several weeks after the primary stage.

 

In the latent stage, the infection is inactive. Patients generally do not experience any symptoms.

 

In the tertiary stage, symptoms may be serious. The infection may affect the blood vessels, nerves, and eyes. It may also affect other organs such as the heart, brain, liver, and skin.

 

If a pregnant mother is infected, the unborn baby may have congenital syphilis. This may result in miscarriage, stillborn babies, low birth weight, and premature deliveries. If babies are born, they may have major health issues such as vision and hearing problems, low blood count (anaemia), and rashes. They may also have organ problems.

 

If you experience any of the above symptoms or if you are unsure, please consult a doctor immediately.

 

Is syphilis curable? What is the treatment for syphilis?

 

Syphilis is curable. Treatment varies according to the stages, but all of them will involve a course of antibiotics - either via oral medication or injection.

 

Should I be tested for syphilis even if I do not have any symptoms?

 

Guidelines vary according to countries; however, regular screening is encouraged for high-risk populations such as HIV patients or MSM populations.

For more information, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/std/syphilis/stdfact-syphilis-detailed.htm.