Syphilis Resources

What Is Syphilis?

Shot of Penicillin

Syphilis can be treated with a shot of penicillin

What Is Syphilis?

Syphilis is a bacterial infection that usually begins as a painless sore on your genitals, vagina, anus or inside the rectum. Syphilis spreads from person to person by direct contact with a sore. It’s quite common to have syphilis but not know you are infected with the sexually-transmitted disease. A large number of people with a syphilis infection don’t show any symptoms for years. What makes syphilis more difficult to detect is that its symptoms are so similar to the symptoms you would have with other diseases that syphilis is often overlooked as the potential cause of those symptoms.

Syphilis Stages

Syphilis progresses in stages. In the primary stage, a small, round painless sore appears, lasts from about three to six weeks and heals itself without treatment. If not treated, syphilis progresses to the secondary stage. In this stage, most people begin to develop a skin rash on the lower part of their body. Some people also develop fever, sore throat, muscle aches and fatigue. These symptoms will resolve on their own with or without treatment, but without treatment the disease progresses to the latent stage. In the latent stage, syphilis lies dormant. You are still infected with syphilis, but there are no signs or symptoms of syphilis. This can last for years. About 15 percent of people progress to the late stage of syphilis, which could occur 10 to 20 years after the initial infection. Late-stage syphilis can damage internal organs such as the brain, nerves, eyes, heart liver, bones and joints. Late stage syphilis symptoms include paralysis, numbness, gradual blindness and dementia. Late-stage syphilis can kill you.

Syphilis Cure

While syphilis is dangerous, it is also detectable, treatable and easy to cure in its early stages. A simple blood test can detect if you are infected with syphilis and a single shot of penicillin will cure syphilis if you’ve had it for less than a year. The longer you’ve had the disease, the more difficult it becomes to cure. Unfortunately you can’t reverse any damage that syphilis has done up to the point it’s cured.

Anonymous Syphilis Test

Everyone who is sexually active should be screened for syphilis. If you’ve already had syphilis, you can get it again by coming into contact with another syphilis sore. Know your status! If you believe you have symptoms that could be from a syphilis infection, you can avoid embarrassment with a private and confidential test for syphilis. Follow the instructions in our anonymous testing guide and get a truly anonymous syphilis test so you can catch it early and get treatment. For more information, refer to the CDC Fact Sheet for Syphilis.

Video — The Symptoms of Syphilis


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Dongle Gives HIV and Syphilis Test Results in 15 Minutes

HIV Test and Syphilis Tests With a Single Drop of Blood

Researchers developed an iPhone dongle that can test for HIV and syphilis with a single drop of blood and produce results in about 15 minutes…. Click here to read full article ›

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New Ocular Syphilis Infection Causes Blindness

Ocular Syphilis

Ocular syphilis is a complication of primary or secondary syphilis that can cause blindness. Syphilis can be cured — get tested!… Click here to read full article ›

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Syphilis Test Data Indicates Major Concern

Syphilis Test Data is a Concern

Syphilis Test Data In 1986, there were 9 reported cases of early latent syphilis infection per 100,000 people. That number rose to 21 cases in 1991 and then consistently declined each year. In 2000 and 2001, the rate was downClick here to read full article ›

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Syphilis — the Great Imitator Among STDs


Syphilis — the Great Imitator Syphilis is known as the “great imitator” among sexually-transmitted diseases and infections because it has the same symptoms as many other more common infections, and the symptoms will go away on their own while theClick here to read full article ›

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Anonymous STD Testing How-To Guide

Anonymous STD Testing

Follow the instructions in this guide to anonymous STD testing to get an accurate and anonymous test for sexually-transmitted diseases and HIV. The guide shows you how to protect your identity and to destroy all evidence that you even had a test. You might be able to get anonymous treatment over the phone from a doctor, depending on the STDs for which you test positive…. Click here to read full article ›

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FDA Grants Waiver for Rapid-Screening Syphilis Test

Rapid Syphilis Test

The FDA granted a waiver that makes it possible for health care clinics and community outreach centers to administer a syphilis test that provides accurate results in 12 minutes…. Click here to read full article ›

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Do I Have Syphilis?

Syphilis Symptoms

If you have syphilis and you don’t get treatment, the disease progresses in stages and progressively inflicts more irreversible damage on your body. Recognize the symptoms at each stage of syphilis and get tested for the disease if you’re sexually active, and especially if you are a man who has sex with men…. Click here to read full article ›

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