Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease that is caused by a bacterium called Treponema pallidum. It can spread from person to person during unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex. Syphilis can also be spread from a mother to her unborn baby.
- A painless sore on the penis, scrotum, vagina, cervix, anus or mouth
- Rashes on the body (especially on the palms of hands and soles of feet)
- Swollen lymph glands
- Alopecia (loss of hair form the head or body)
- In late syphilis, the brain and heart may be affected
Symptoms usually appear 1-2 weeks after being exposed to syphilis.
How would I know if I have syphilis?
- If you have a sore on your genitals, get an STD examination.
- A blood test for syphilis is usually performed.
- You could have syphilis and not know it.
- Anytime you have tests for other STDs, be sure to ask for a syphilis blood test.
How is syphilis treated?
- Syphilis can be treated with antibiotics. Penicillin “shots” are usually used.
- A single “shot” is often adequate during the early stages of syphilis. Multiple “shots” are used during later stages of the disease.
- Other antibiotics may be used in people who have an allergy to penicillin.
- The Southeast STD Clinic will test, diagnose, and treat syphilis free of charge.
How can I avoid getting syphilis?
- Avoid unprotected sex. Always use a condom.
- Avoid infection by having one sexual partner.
If you have questions or think you may have syphilis, stop having sex and come to the DC Health and Wellness Center for a FREE and CONFIDENTIAL assessment.