Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease that is passed from one individual to another through sexual intercourse, anal sex, or oral sex. Syphilis can also be passed from a mother to her unborn child. Syphilis starts with a sore that forms on the mouth, genitals, or rectum. After a person is infected, syphilis can remain dormant in the body for decades before resurfacing. This sexually transmitted disease can become life-threatening, damaging the brain and heart if it is not treated properly.
How is syphilis treated?
Penicillin is the preferred treatment for syphilis, whether the disease is in its early phases or has been in the body for years. Penicillin can keep the syphilis infection from worsening if the medicine is injected before a patient has had the infection for a year. Those who have dealt with syphilis for longer than a year will need to have more than one injection of penicillin. Individuals who are allergic to penicillin can receive another antibiotic from the doctor.
Once a person has been treated for syphilis, he or she will need to have follow-up blood tests to verify that the penicillin is doing its work in the body. It is also imperative that patients avoid any sexual contact until syphilis has been cured. It's also best for anyone who has syphilis to tell sexual partners so that each partner can get tested. The individual with syphilis will also need to be tested for HIV.
How is syphilis prevented?
Abstinence is the only way to completely prevent the chances of contracting syphilis through sexual contact, although having sex with only one partner who is not infected with syphilis greatly reduces the chances of contracting the disease. It is also important to use condoms and dental dams to avoid syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases.