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STIs Explained: Syphilis

Since Spring has arrived and romance is in the air, let's talk more about STIs.

STI stands for "sexually transmitted infection." The reason this term is used instead of STDs (sexually transmitted disease) is because the word "infection" is more accurate since many of these are actually curable (except for Genital Herpes, Genital Warts, and HIV). Also, the word "infection" carries less of a negative social stigma than the word "disease."

STIs like Syphilis, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Genital Herpes, and Genital Warts are 100% avoidable, so your best bet is to abstain from vaginal, anal, or oral sex altogether. Since that's not much fun (and not going to happen), it's a good idea for you and your partner to get tested for all STIs before you have sex.

Using latex or polyurethane condoms is also a great idea, but not completely effective. Being in a mutually monogamous relationship with someone you know is uninfected will keep you safe and STI-free.

Make sure to see your gynecologist annually to get tested, because early detection of syphilis (in the first stage) can help prevent permanent organ damage to the heart, eyes, brain, nervous system, bones and joints.

Want to know about Syphilis? Then

STI Symptoms How do you test for it? Treatment
  • Stage 1: One or more painless reddish-brown sores (called chancres) appear on or near the genitals. Sores can also appear on the lips, mouth and fingertips.
  • Stage 2: A skin rash develops anywhere on the body. Flu-like symptoms such as mild fever, fatigue and sore-throat appear.
  • Stage 3: Late stage symptoms include brain damage, mental illness, blindness, organ damage, heart disease and death.
There are 3 ways to test:
  • a doctor's recognition of its symptoms
  • microscopic identification of syphilis bacteria
  • and blood tests
Since syphilis is a bacterial infection, a single injection of Penicillin or other antibiotic will cure a person who has had syphilis for less than 1 year.

Additional doses are needed for someone who's had it longer.


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