Do I Have Syphilis? Signs and Symptoms of Syphilis

Hi, my name is [PRESENTER NAME]. Im [PRESENTER ROLE]. Welcome to Do I Have Syphilis? Signs and Symptoms of Syphilis.

Syphilis is a common sexually transmitted infection that can cause serious illness. Having an active syphilis infection increases the risk you will get HIV or give HIV to someone else. HIV is incurable and can be fatal.[1] If you are a pregnant woman, syphilis increases the risk that the pregnancy will end in miscarriage, death of the baby at birth or in infancy, or permanent disabilities for your baby. Fortunately, syphilis can be diagnosed with a blood test and cured with antibiotics.

You can have syphilis without knowing it. The symptoms are not always noticeable. If you think you may have been exposed to or infected with any sexually transmitted infection, see a doctor and get tested whether or not you have any symptoms. All pregnant women should be checked for syphilis, HIV, and other sexually transmitted infections.[2][3][4][5]

How Is Syphilis Transmitted?

Syphilis is usually transmitted by vaginal, oral, or anal sexual contact. The second most common way syphilis is transmitted is from mother to child during the pregnancy, or during delivery. You can also get syphilis by kissing on or near a syphilis sore or by touching an infected area on the person.[6]

Symptoms of Syphilis

Soon after infection, a sore develops that is usually round, hard, raised, and painless.[7] [8] Usually the sore is on the genitals, hands, or mouth. Usually, there is just one, but sometimes there can be multiple sores. Without treatment, the sore will usually heal within three to six weeks.[9]

In many people with syphilis, lymph nodes near the sore will swell up, especially if the sore is near the genitals.[10] Lymph nodes are small balls in your neck, underarms, groin, and knees that help fight infections. Even after the initial sore has healed, your lymph nodes may stay enlarged.[11]

Without treatment, the infection will usually develop into secondary syphilis between three and six weeks after the sore appears. At this stage, you may have flu-like symptoms, a sore throat, feel tired, lose your appetite, or have swollen lymph nodes.[12] Most commonly, you will have a rash of red or pink spots on your body. The spots may become similar to a pimple or a mark. The spots will often appear on the sides of your body, your arms, or your genitals or on the palms of your hands or the soles of your feet.[13] You may also get white or gray spots on your mouth or genitals.[14]

A few people will lose patches of hair from their scalp, beard or eyebrows. You may also develop problems with your kidneys, eyes, liver, bones, or joints; meningitis; or deafness.[15]

In the final stage of syphilis, you may develop spots on your body, most commonly on the skin, bone, or liver. The skin spots may turn into ulcers. You may also develop dementia, paralysis, and damage to the spinal cord and brain.[16]

At any stage of syphilis, you may also develop meningitis, headaches, nausea, vision and hearing problems, dizziness, memory and speech problems, irritability, and delusions. [17] [18] [19]

Syphilis in Pregnant Women

If you are a woman who is pregnant or who may become pregnant, it is vital that you be tested for syphilis. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all pregnant women be tested for syphilis[20] and other sexually transmitted infections including HIV, chlamydia, and Hepatitis B.[21] [22] The World Health Organization recommends that all pregnant women be tested for syphilis the first time they visit their doctor and a second time in the third trimester[23] as well as tested for HIV and checked for symptoms of other sexually transmitted infections.[24]

If you are pregnant, have syphilis, and don't get treated, more than two-thirds of the time, your pregnancy will have a poor outcome.[25] Without treatment, there is a one in four chance that you will have a miscarriage or that your baby will be born dead, and more than one chance in ten that your baby will die as an infant.[26] Even if your baby survives, it may have syphilis and may be permanently disabled even after it is treated. By getting tested for syphilis and treated if you need it, you can protect your own health and your baby's health too. So if you are pregnant, talk to your doctor right away, get tested for syphilis and HIV, and follow the doctor's instructions.

Syphilis Treatment

If you have syphilis, your doctor will give you antibiotics. Do not have sex until your doctor says you are cured.[27]

Getting Your Sexual Partners Tested and Treated for Syphilis

If you have a sexually transmitted infection, it is important that all of your current and recent sexual partners be tested and treated as well. If you aren't comfortable telling a current or past sexual partner that you were diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection, in many places, you can give the public health service the names and contact information of your partners and the public health service will ask your partners to get tested without revealing your name.

Preventing Syphilis

The ways to reduce your risk of syphilis include:

      abstaining from sex

      being mutually faithful with a partner who has been tested and is known not to have syphilis

      using a condom correctly every time you have sex, every way you have sex.

Using a condom is always a good idea and can greatly reduce the risk of transmitting many sexually transmitted infections. However, syphilis can occur in and be transmitted from parts of the body that are covered by a condom as well as parts of the body that are not covered by a condom. Using a condom can only reduce the risk of transmitting syphilis if the infected part of the body, or the part of the partner's body that touches it, are covered by the condom.

See a Doctor

Watching a video is no substitute for seeing a doctor and being evaluated in person. If you are feeling ill, have any signs or symptoms of disease, or think you may have been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection, see a doctor and be evaluated in person.

For AIDSvideos.org, this is [PRESENTER NAME].

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TO LEARN MORE:

 

http://cdc.gov/std/syphilis/

www.cdc.gov/std/treatment/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syphilis

http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/rtis/syphilis/en/

http://www.webmd.com/sexual-conditions/guide/syphilis

 

 

WORKS CITED

 

AIDSmeds.com. "Syphilis and Neurosyphilis." http://www.aidsmeds.com/articles/Syphilis_6724.shtml. Accessed 5 December 2011.

 

AVERT.org. "Syphilis." http://www.avert.org/syphilis.htm. Accessed 26 Nov 2011.

 

Bolen, Gail. "Optimizing STD Management in HIV Infected Individuals: What's New in 2011." Presentation at Medical Management of HIV/AIDS Conference, UCSF, 1 December 2011.

 

Hawkes, Sarah, et al. "Effectiveness of interventions to improve screening for syphilis in pregnancy: a systematic review and meta-analysis." The Lancet Infectious Diseases, Volume 11, Issue 9, Pages 684 - 691, September 2011. doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(11)70104-9

 

Kent, Molly E., and Frank Romanelli. "Reexamining Syphilis: An Update on Epidemiology, Clinical Manifestations, and Management." Annals of Pharmacotherapy 2008;42:226-36. doi: 10.1345/aph.1K086

 

United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2010: Special Populations." http://www.cdc.gov/std/treatment/2010/specialpops.htm. Accessed 28 Nov 2011.

 

United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "STD Trends in the United States: 2010 National Data for Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and Syphilis." http://www.cdc.gov/std/stats10/trends.htm. Accessed 27 Nov 2011.

 

United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "STDs & Pregnancy - CDC Fact Sheet," http://www.cdc.gov/std/pregnancy/STDFact-Pregnancy.htm. Accessed 25 Nov 2011.

 

United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Syphilis - CDC Fact Sheet," http://www.cdc.gov/std/syphilis/stdfact-syphilis.htm. Accessed 5 December 2011.

 

United States Preventive Services Task Force. "Screening for syphilis infection in pregnancy: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reaffirmation recommendation statement." Ann Intern Med. 2009 May 19;150(10):705-9.

 

WebMD.com. "Syphilis." http://www.webmd.com/sexual-conditions/guide/syphilis. Accessed 25 Nov 2011.

 

Wilcox, Ronald D. "The challenge of neurosyphilis in HIV." HIV Clinician, Summer 2009, Vol. 21, No. 3, 1, 5-6. http://www.deltaaetc.org/hcarticles/articles%20as%20pdf/summer%2009%20articles%20as%20pdf/neurosyphilis%20in%20HIV.pdf Acessed 4 December 2011.

 

World Health Organization. "Standards for Maternal and Neonatal Care: Prevention and management of sexually transmitted and reproductive tract infections." http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/maternal_perinatal_health/prevention_mngt_stis.pdf, p.1. Accessed 25 Nov 2011.

 

 

This script was reviewed for accuracy and approved by Becky Kuhn, M.D. on December 5, 2011.

 

Copyright 2011 Global Lifeworks. All rights reserved.

 

 



[1] United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "STD Trends in the United States: 2010 National Data for Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and Syphilis," http://www.cdc.gov/std/stats10/trends.htm. Accessed 27 Nov 2011.

[2] United States Preventive Services Task Force. "Screening for syphilis infection in pregnancy: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reaffirmation recommendation statement." Ann Intern Med. 2009 May 19;150(10):705-9.

[3] United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "STDs & Pregnancy - CDC Fact Sheet," http://www.cdc.gov/std/pregnancy/STDFact-Pregnancy.htm. Accessed 25 Nov 2011.

[4] Sarah Hawkes, Ph.D., et al. "Effectiveness of interventions to improve screening for syphilis in pregnancy: a systematic review and meta-analysis." The Lancet Infectious Diseases, Volume 11, Issue 9, Pages 684 - 691, September 2011. doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(11)70104-9

[5] World Health Organization, "Standards for Maternal and Neonatal Care: Prevention and management of sexually transmitted and reproductive tract infections," http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/maternal_perinatal_health/prevention_mngt_stis.pdf, p.1. Accessed 25 Nov 2011.

[6] Kent, Molly E., and Frank Romanelli, "Reexamining Syphilis: An Update on Epidemiology, Clinical Manifestations, and Management," Annals of Pharmacotherapy 2008;42:226-36. doi: 10.1345/aph.1K086

[7] United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Syphilis - CDC Fact Sheet," http://www.cdc.gov/std/syphilis/stdfact-syphilis.htm. Accessed 5 December 2011.

[8] Kent and Romanelli, 226-36.

[9] Kent and Romanelli, 226-36.

[10] Kent and Romanelli, 226-36.

[11] Kent and Romanelli, 226-36.

[12] AVERT.org, "Syphilis," http://www.avert.org/syphilis.htm. Accessed 26 Nov 2011.

[13] Kent and Romanelli, 226-36.

[14] Kent and Romanelli, 226-36.

[15] Kent and Romanelli, 226-36.

[16] Kent and Romanelli, 226-36.

[17] Kent and Romanelli, 226-36.

[18] AIDSmeds.com, "Syphilis and Neurosyphilis," http://www.aidsmeds.com/articles/Syphilis_6724.shtml. Accessed 5 December 2011.

[19] Wilcox, Ronald D, "The challenge of neurosyphilis in HIV," HIV Clinician, Summer 2009, Vol. 21, No. 3, 1, 5-6. http://www.deltaaetc.org/hcarticles/articles%20as%20pdf/summer%2009%20articles%20as%20pdf/neurosyphilis%20in%20HIV.pdf Acessed 4 December 2011.

[20] United States Preventive Services Task Force. "Screening for syphilis infection in pregnancy: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reaffirmation recommendation statement." Ann Intern Med. 2009 May 19;150(10):705-9.

[21] United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "STDs & Pregnancy - CDC Fact Sheet," http://www.cdc.gov/std/pregnancy/STDFact-Pregnancy.htm. Accessed 25 Nov 2011.

[22] United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2010: Special Populations," http://www.cdc.gov/std/treatment/2010/specialpops.htm. Accessed 28 Nov 2011.

[23] Hawkes, 684 - 691.

[24] World Health Organization, "Standards for Maternal and Neonatal Care: Prevention and management of sexually transmitted and reproductive tract infections," http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/maternal_perinatal_health/prevention_mngt_stis.pdf, p.1. Accessed 25 Nov 2011.

[25] Hawkes, 684 - 691.

[26] Hawkes, 684 - 691.

[27] WebMD.com. "Syphilis." http://www.webmd.com/sexual-conditions/guide/syphilis. Accessed 25 Nov 2011.