Speaking of Syphilis

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that has been on the rise in the United States. According to the latest CDC statistics, the incidence of reported syphilis cases has increased nearly 74% since 2017. Keep reading to learn the facts on syphilis and how to prevent contracting this infection.

Key Facts You Should Know

  • Fact 1: Syphilis is a treatable STI. Because syphilis is a bacterial infection, this condition can be treated with antibiotics similar to chlamydia and gonorrhea. (Fun Fact: You may have heard of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. This clinical study enrolled Black men with syphilis but denied them access to treatment which is extremely unethical. Since this study which occurred in the 1970’s, ethical guidelines were established to ensure future participants, especially minorities, are protected in medical research.)
  • Fact 2: Serious complications can arise if left untreated. Signs and symptoms of syphilis include rash on the hands and/or feet, as well as a single or multiple sore around the mouth or genitalia which is often painless. In many cases, the sores can heal on their own. However, the syphilis infection can still be left in the body causing neurological issues as well as changes in hearing and vision.
  • Fact 3: All those who are sexually active are at risk for infection. Syphilis is spread through direct contact with a sore. Thus, like any other STI, it is important to use condoms and get STI testing prior to engaging in risky behaviors. While these behaviors may minimize risk, the only guarantee of not contracting the infection is abstinence.
  • Fact 4: It is highly recommended that pregnant women receive at least one syphilis test during pregnancy. If you test positive for syphilis, it is important to seek treatment right away because there is a possibility you may pass the infection to the unborn baby. Complications can arise during pregnancy including low birthweight and delivery prematurely.

As stated, syphilis is on the rise, but luckily there is a cure. Take ownership of your sexual health and schedule an appointment for STI screening. 

  1. Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance, 2021. Published April 11, 2023. Accessed January 21, 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/std/statistics/2021/default.htm

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