An Overview Of Syphilis
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. Although usually transmitted during sexual activities, the infection can also be passed during drug use by sharing intravenous needles.
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Syphilis In The US Population
In 2015 the CDC reported roughly 75,000 new infections of syhilis across the United States, in comparison to almost 400,000 reports of gonorrhea. Syphilis most often affects gay men, bisexual men, and other men who have sex with men. Almost 80% of syphilis infections from 2015 fell into those three categories.
How Syphilis Spreads
Syphilis is spread through contact with a syphilis sore, which can occur during vaginal, anal or oral sex. It can also be spread from mother to child during birth. It is not always obvious if a person has a syphilis sore. Condoms greatly reduce the risk of spreading infection, but the only 100% sure way to prevent syphilis is to not have sex. A person can be infected with syphilis even if they have been previously treated.
Am I At Risk For Syphilis?
Any individual engaged in unprotected anal, vaginal or oral sex. Contracting syphilis from a single encounter can occur from 3-10% of the time. Pregnant women should be tested for syphilis (and other STDs) on their first doctors visit. Individuals with syphilis are at a higher risk for contracting HIV.
Syphilis And Pregnancy
Women who are pregnant and have a syphilis infection put their baby at risk for contracting the infection as well. Syphilictic babies are often born premature and under weight, or in worst cases, stillborn. Expecting mothers should get at least one full STD panel during their pregnancies. Any postiive test results should be immediately treated.
Can Syphilis Be Cured?
Syphilis can be easily cured with over the counter prescription medication. The CDC notes that even though treatment can be easily prescribed, if syphilis infections aren’t caught and treated early they could leave lasting damage. If you’ve been treated for syphilis it doesn’t exclude you from recontracting the disease at a later date.
How Is Syphilis Diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider or STD testing center like ValleySTD.com will require a blood panel to test for the presence of syphilis. An initial screening could use a Rapid Plasma Reagin (RPR) or a Rapid Immunochromatographic Test. Usually positive results are confirmed by a secondary test such as an Enzyme Immunoassay (EIA) Test or a Treponema Pallidum Particle Agglutination Assay (TPPA). These tests look for the presence of antibodies created by the body during active syphilis infections. Penicillin is the mot common antibiotic prescribed for a syphilis infection. Alternate medications include doxycycline, tetracycline, ceftriaxone and azithromycin.
Another test is called the Wassermann Test
Properly using condoms is the most affective way for sexually active individuals to protect from syphilis infections. Monogamous relationships with partners who have both tested negative for syphilis can have unprotected sex without getting the infection. Even though condoms protect against sexually transmitted diseases most of the time, they still do fail in a small percentage of cases.
The History Of Syphilis
Syphilis has an unknown origin, despite many scholars and scientists studying the disease for hundreds of years. The first recorded outbreak of syphilis occured in 1494 in Naples, Italy. It was originally known as a disease of French origin because it came with the French troop when they passed through the city. Numerous historical figures have been speculated to have had the infection such as Franz Schubert, Arthur Schopenhauer, and E. Manet.