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Syphilis

Syphilisisahighlycontagiousdisease spreadprimarilybysexualactivity,including
oralandanalsex.Occasionally,thediseasecanbepassedtoanotherpersonthrough
prolongedkissing orclosebodilycontact.Althoughthisdiseaseisspreadfrom
sores,thevastmajorityofthosesoresgounrecognized.Theinfectedpersonisoften
unawareofthediseaseandunknowinglypassesitontohisorhersexualpartner.
Pregnantwomenwiththediseasecanspreadittotheirbaby.Thisdisease,called
congenitalsyphilis,cancauseabnormalitiesorevendeathtothechild.
Syphiliscannotbespreadbytoiletseats,doorknobs,swimmingpools,hottubs,bath
tubs,sharedclothing,oreatingutensils.
What Causes Syphilis?

SyphilisiscausedbythebacteriaTreponemapallidum.
How Common Is Syphilis?

Syphiliswasonceamajorpublichealththreat,commonlycausingseriouslongterm
healthproblemssuchasarthritis,braindamage,andblindness.Itdefiedeffective
treatmentuntilthelate1940s,whentheantibioticpenicillinwasfirstdeveloped.
AccordingtotheCDC,therateofnewcasesofsyphilishadplummetedinthe1990's
andintheyear2000itreachedanalltimelowsincereportingbeganin1941.
However,newcasesofsyphillisdoubledbetween2005and2013from8,724to
16,663.
In2014,thenumberofnewcaseshadrisento19,999.
How Do I Know If I Have Syphilis?

Syphilisinfectionoccursinthreedistinctstages:
Earlyorprimarysyphilis.Peoplewithprimarysyphiliswilldeveloponeormoresores.
Thesoresareusuallysmallpainlessulcers.Theyoccuronthegenitalsorinoraround
themouthsomewherebetween1090days(averagethreeweeks)afterexposure.
Evenwithouttreatmenttheyhealwithoutascarwithinsixweeks.
Thesecondarystagemaylastonetothreemonthsand
beginswithinsixweekstosixmonthsafterexposure.
Peoplewithsecondarysyphilisexperiencearosy
"copperpenny"rashtypicallyonthepalmsofthehands
andsolesofthefeet.However,rasheswithadifferent
appearancemayoccuronotherpartsofthebody,
sometimesresemblingrashes causedbyother
diseases.Theymayalsoexperiencemoistwartsinthe
groin,whitepatchesontheinsideofthemouth
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swollenlymphglands,fever,andweightloss.Like

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Secondarystagerashonthepalmsofthe

primarysyphilis,secondarysyphiliswillresolvewithout
treatment.

hands.

Latentsyphilis.Thisiswheretheinfectionliesdormant(inactive)withoutcausing
symptoms.
Tertiarysyphilis.Iftheinfectionisn'ttreated,itmaythenprogresstoastage
characterizedbysevereproblemswiththeheart,brain,andnervesthatcanresultin
paralysis,blindness,dementia,deafness,impotence,andevendeathifit'snottreated.
How Is Syphilis Diagnosed?

Syphiliscanbeeasilydiagnosedwithaquickandinexpensivebloodtestgivenatyour
doctor'sofficeoratapublichealthclinic.

How Is Syphilis Treated?

Ifyou'vebeeninfectedwithsyphilisforlessthanayear,asingledoseofpenicillinis
usuallyenoughtodestroytheinfection.Forthoseallergictopenicillin,tetracycline,
doxycyclineoranotherantibioticcanbegiveninstead.Ifyouareinalaterstageof
disease,moredoseswillbeneeded.
Peoplewhoarebeingtreatedforsyphilismustabstainfromsexualcontactuntilthe
infectioniscompletelygone.Sexualpartnersofpeoplewithsyphilisshouldbetested
and,ifnecessary,treated.
What if Syphilis Is not Treated?

Ifsyphilisisleftuntreated,itcancauseseriousandpermanentproblemssuchas
dementia,blindness,ordeath.
How Does Syphilis Aect a Pregnant Woman and Her Baby?

Dependingonhowlongapregnantwomanhasbeeninfectedwithsyphilis,shehasa
goodchanceofhavingastillbirth(birthofaninfantwhohasdiedpriortodelivery)orof
givingbirthtoababywhodiesshortlyafterbirth.
Ifnottreatedimmediately,aninfectedbabymaybebornwithoutsymptomsbutcould
developthemwithinafewweeks.Thesesignsandsymptomscanbeveryserious.
Untreatedbabiesmaybecomedevelopmentallydelayed,haveseizures,ordie.
How Can I Prevent a Syphilis Infection?

Toreduceyourriskofsyphilisinfection:
Avoidintimatecontactwithapersonyouknowisinfected.
Ifyoudonotknowifasexualpartnerisinfected,useacondomineverysexual
encounter.

What Is the Outlook for People With Syphilis?

Syphilisisacurablediseasewithpromptdiagnosisandtreatment.However,iftreated
toolate,theremaybepermanentdamagetotheheartandbrain evenafterthe
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infectionisdestroyed.

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Genital Herpes

Sexual Conditions Guide


1

Basic Facts

Prevention

Types & Causes

Finding Help

Treatments