The Concerning Rise of Syphilis and How To Tackle It
Syphilis was thought to be near elimination in 1997, yet the rate of incidences have seemingly doubled since then, causing concerns over general sexual health. This sexually transmitted infection, or STI, can be spread through vaginal, oral or anal sex. The greatest increase, 72%, has been found in men under 30 years of age or over 50, who engage in sexual activity with other men. Though this group should be especially aware of the risk of syphilis, experts want the whole population to be educated about this STI.
The symptoms of syphilis include sores on the genitals or in the rectum and mouth, as well as rashes on the body, in particular on the soles of feet and palms of the hand. If another person makes contact with the sores or rash, they can contract the infection. Whilst these symptoms can eventually heal themselves, untreated syphilis has some extreme long-term effects, including damage to the brain and heart, and even death. It is also calculated that if you contract syphilis, your risk of also getting HIV is 3 to 5 times higher.
If you think you have some of the early symptoms of syphilis, or have reason to believe you have caught the infection, treatment is relatively easy to gain access to. Your local GP or sexual health clinic can take a blood sample and send it off to find out if you have syphilis. If the results come back positive, don’t fret – the treatment simply involves 1 to 3 penicillin injections. Although the impact of this STI can be worrying, it is ultimately curable with antibiotics when targeted early. As with many illnesses and diseases, prevention is preferable to the cure, and there are guidelines to follow which can reduce the spread of syphilis. Being aware of your sexual health and the risks of sexual activity is important. Condoms are highly recommended for preventing transmission of STIs, and limiting the number of sexual partners you have can also reduce risk. In conjunction, tell your partners if you find you have syphilis and make sure to both get treatment.