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Practising safe sex is the best way to prevent syphilis infection.

Practising safe sex is the best way to prevent syphilis infection.
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Syphilis

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It is caused by a bacterial infection and can cause serious health problems if left untreated. However, it is easy to cure if found early.

Syphilis is rare in Australia. It occurs about seven times more commonly in men compared to women, and the number of people infected with syphilis is increasing in men who have sex with men and people with HIV infection or AIDS.

What if I have syphilis?

If you think you may have syphilis, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will confirm the diagnosis with testing and start treatment if required.

It may also be a good idea to be tested for other sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea and HIV.

It is safest not to have sex, even with a condom, until after you have completed the full course of treatment. Syphilis is very infectious, particularly during the early stages.

It is very important to tell previous sex partners who may have been exposed so that they can also be tested and treated if infected. Your doctor will help you decide who you need to tell and how you can tell them.

The Let Them Know website can provide advice and sample emails, SMSs and letters to send either personally or anonymously.

Where do I find more information?

For further information contact your doctor, sexual health clinic or call healthdirect on 1800 022 222.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about syphilis, why not use healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Last reviewed: June 2017

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Syphilis is a sexually transmissible infection that can be treated and cured with antibiotics. If it is not treated it can affect the brain, spinal cord and other organs. Condoms can prevent transmission.

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