Syphilis - What Do You Know?
What’s going on?
When you think of STD’s, syphilis is probably not be the first one on your mind. We usually hear more about Chlamydia and Gonorrhea because they are more common. Syphilis was the lowest in the United States in the year 2000 but has been on the rise ever since.
Rates of syphilis are on the rise for people of all age groups all over the country. In 2016, there were 27,814 new cases of syphilis throughout the US -- which was up 74% from 2012. There were so many new cases of syphilis in the last three years that there was a shortage of the medication to treat the disease! Treatment is now available -- but this shows how much syphilis rates have spiked recently. Learn what you can do to protect yourself against Syphilis.
Syphilis is a bacterial infection spread through contact with someone who has Syphilis during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. If someone has Syphilis, they go through the three different stages of syphilis. In the first stage, a person will get a small, painless sore called a chancre. Because it is small, painless, and may not be easily seen, someone may not even notice this sore if they have it. The sore will go away but if the person is not treated, they will still have syphilis. After a few weeks or months, someone will go through the second stage and get a rash and fever. The rash is often on the palm of the hands or the bottom of the feet. These symptoms will go away but a person will still have syphilis unless they are treated. The third stage develops about 10 to 20 years later, when the bacteria affects the brain and other organs. Though late stage syphilis is rare, it can lead to death. Luckily, this infection can be easily cured when caught in early stages by antibiotics.
Like with many STD’s, people don’t even know they have them because the symptoms can easily go unnoticed or be confused for other health issues. The best way to know if you have syphilis is to get tested! Testing for syphilis is easy but it does require a small sample of blood. REMEMBER:- there is no one test for all STDs, so it is important that you stay informed. Make sure that you talk to your doctor or health care provider about what STD’s you should get tested for.
The most effective way to protect yourself from STD’s like syphilis is to not have sex. But if you do have sex, using a condom can decrease your chances of getting infected. Condoms cannot 100% protect you because syphilis sores can occur in places not covered by a condom and condoms are never 100% effective. Make sure that you and any partner get tested regularly!