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Syphillis

Syphilis is caused by a tiny bacteria that can affect lots of your body parts including your heart, brain and bones if it is not treated, but it can be treated if it is caught early. The bad news is that it is difficult to know if you have it by what happens to your body.

We will check you for syphilis by giving you a blood test when you come for a sexual health check up.

How do you get it?

Yup, you’ve guessed it through unprotected sex (anal, vaginal and oral). 
Wrap it up! - use a condom.

What happens?

It can take from 10 days to 3 months after the infection is passed on before anything happens and then you might not notice the symptoms which have different stages:

Stage 1: Primary syphilis

A little sore appears in your genital area or in your mouth if you have caught it after oral sex. This is painless. This goes away on its own but the disease is just getting worse inside you.

Stage 2: Secondary syphilis

You can get a rash, feel as though you have got a flu with muscle aches, you might get sores. Again this goes away after a few weeks and your doctor might not think of syphilis unless you tell them you had unprotected sex. This is because the rash looks like other rashes. We can treat primary and secondary syphilis and make the infection go away. So it is important to get tested at this stage. You can pass the infection on at this stage too.

Stage 3: Tertiary syphilis

If we don't catch it in time, the infection hides away in your body and then suddenly appears, years later and causes problems with your heart, brain, bones.

If you get pregnant, it can affect your baby too and can lead to death.

How can we test you?

If you have a sore, we will take a swab and look at it under the microscope. Otherwise, we will do a blood test.

Can it be treated?

Primary and secondary syphilis can easily be treated with antibiotics.

If we see it on a blood test when it is hiding and has not done any damage to the body, we can treat it too.

As soon as it damages the body, it is more difficult to treat. 

If you have got it, it would be a good idea to test your partner(s).