Syphilis is caused by the bacteria Treponema pallidum and is sexually transmitted.
It is increasing in prevalence among men who have sex with men, and more common in ATSI populations.
Syphilis has 3 stages, but 50% of people have no symptoms and are only detected with testing.
By taking a careful history and performing an examination the signs of syphilis are usually there. However it is often picked up with blood tests in patients with no symptoms.
If there are chancres (ulcers) a swab may be positive before blood tests are.
Your doctor will inform you of the results with a phone call if a follow up appointment hasn’t already been arranged.
You will be provided with antibiotics to treat the infection, and advised not to have sex with anyone for the next 7 days, even if you are using barrier protection like condoms.
Also avoid sex with any partners from the last 3-6 months until they have been tested and treated if necessary.
You will need to inform any partners over the last 6 months that they should get tested also.
If you had symptoms they should have resolved. If they didn’t then it’s advised to see your doctor to check if there was treatment failure (very very rare), reinfection, or if there is another cause.
Repeat testing is necessary at 3 months and 6 months to ensure the blood tests are improving indicating a test of cure.
If you’re interested in doing an STI screen, or are worried you might have symptoms book in with our doctors for an STI check. If you want to know how often you should get tested, have a look at our page on how often should I have a sexual health check for more information.
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