Syphilis Prevention

According to syphilis statistics, men account for 63 percent of the number of individuals infected with syphilis. More and more teens and young adults are contracting syphilis. Practicing safe sex and abstinence if necessary is the best way to ensure syphilis prevention from spreading and affecting more sexually active teens and adults.

What is syphilis?
  • Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection that is transferred from person to person as a result of the transmission of bacteria called Treponema Pallidum. It is referred to as the “great imitator” because so many of the its symptoms are like other STDs, so it makes it difficult to distinguish from other infections.
  • Syphilis is easily transferred from person to person during any kind of sexual contact when there is direct exposure with a syphilis sore, which can be found on the mouth, genital region, anus and rectum.
  • Syphilis cannot be transferred through inanimate objects like toilet seats and door handles because the bacteria cannot live for that long outside the body.
Syphilis symptoms:
  • Sometimes symptoms never actually show, or take years to develop, however there is still damage being done to the body’s internal organs. Outward physical syphilis symptoms are usually divided into three stages.
  • Stage one: The infected person develops one (although sometimes there are multiple) sores around the genital area. This is where the syphilis entered the body. It can be small, round and firm and generally does not cause pain. It may heal on its own after a few weeks. However, if the sore is allowed to heal on its own, the syphilis infection will worsen and progress to the next stage. Treatment at this point is vital to practice syphilis prevention of worse symptoms.
  • Stage two: A skin rash might develop across the body and will especially appear on the palms of the hands and bottoms of the feet. Mucous lesions might also appear across the body.
  • Latent symptoms: If treatment and syphilis prevention methods are not explored after the second stage, other symptoms will arise. These may include fever, swollen glands, paralysis, numbness gradual loss of eye sight, damage to the bones and joints and may cause dementia. Sometimes the syphilis symptoms are severe enough to cause death.
Syphilis prevention:
  • The first rule in practicing syphilis prevention is for all sexually active teens and adults to  remember that just because an infected person may not show any symptoms they can still transfer syphilis.
  • Teens who are having sex outside of a monogamous relationship with at least one or multiple partners, should keep in mind that just because there are no visible symptoms, it does not mean their partner(s) is not infected with the disease.
  • The only way a person can ever completely 100 percent practice syphilis prevention is to completely abstain from sexual acts containing genital to genital or mouth to genital contact or any other kind of contact that might expose them to a syphilis sore.
  • Another option to help prevent syphilis is by using a latex condom. This might help reduce the risk of contracting syphilis, however, it does not protect the areas it does not cover like the mouth or around the genital or anus. In many instances, the syphilis sore that is known for spreading the infection is not in area that can be protected by a condom.
Who is at risk?
  • Men make up 63 percent of the number of individuals infected with syphilis.
  • The reason for men being more likely to contract the disease is because men who have sex with men (MSM) are at higher risk.
  • There are about 40,000 new cases of syphilis reported each year. This number continues to rise.
  • Most of the syphilis infections are found within the 20 to 24 year old age group.
  • Through the use of penicillin-based antibiotics, syphilis can be easily treated within the first year of infection. However, additional antibiotics and treatments are required for those who have been infected longer than a year. The disease becomes more and more difficult to treat the longer the infection has been in the body.
  • Do not have sexual contact with anyone until the sores are completely gone and the treatment process has finished to avoid continuing to prevent syphilis from spreading to more people.
  • All sexual partners should also be tested and treated for syphilis to help prevent the spread of syphilis.