Here’s the Who, What, When, Why and How low down on this STI

Who:  Every year, nearly 9 million people under the age of 25 get a new STI (sexually transmitted infection). One of these infections is syphilis. If you’ve had sex, you could have an STI. Some STIs cause symptoms. Some don’t. You could have one and not even know it. Some STIs make you sick today and others cause problems later in life.

What:  Syphilis is a bacterial STI. You can get it from having sex with an infected person. Syphilis can be treated with antibiotics. However, they will not repair any damage already done. Delayed treatment can result in serious problems. Both you and your partner must be treated.

When:  You are at risk of getting syphilis when you have sex with an infected person. You usually get it through contact with sores or infected patches. These can be on the genitals or sometimes even on the mouth. Babies can get it from their mothers during pregnancy. Most infected people don’t notice any symptoms, but they can still pass on syphilis. Syphilis can also be passed during oral and anal sex.

Why get checked?  Syphilis symptoms are often similar to those of other diseases. At first, you may get a painless sore for a few weeks. If you don’t get treatment, your syphilis will get worse. Next, you may feel like you have the flu. At this point, you may notice a rash. If you still don’t get treated, syphilis can cause blindness, brain damage, heart damage and death. Syphilis also increases your chance of getting HIV. If you always use condoms for vaginal sex, you can cut your chance of getting syphilis by about half. So far, there is no evidence that condoms reduce your chance of getting syphilis during oral or anal sex.

How to avoid getting infected?  Avoid all sexual activity if you are single.  Be faithful to one uninfected partner for the rest of your life. If you have had sex, do yourself a favor and get checked out!

Here at Care Net Frederick we offer FREE and confidential STD/STI testing!

Call today to set up your free appointment at 301-662-5300 or email us via our website contact page.


The Medical Institute (2012). Syphilis, get your facts straight [Pamphlet]. (N.P.) Austin, TX.

To see The Medical Institute references, view or purchase this pamphlet, please visit

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