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Understanding Syphilis And Its Prevention

patient being seen by doctor

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection. It is not a new disease and people have
been getting and treating the infection for hundreds of years. The treatments of sexually
transmitted infections are so well established that it was thought that it is possible to eradicate
the infection. However, statistics show that the rate of syphilis infection is rising in the US.
It can be challenging to diagnose syphilis infection. A person can have a syphilis infection
without showing any symptoms for many years. As per the expert healthcare providers in our
affordable health clinic, the earlier the infection is detected, the better. This is because when
the infection remains untreated for many years, it can result in major damage to vital organs
like the brain and the heart. Understanding the causes and symptoms of syphilis can help
protect yourself from the infection.

Causes Of Syphilis

Syphilis is caused by bacterial infection. It was discovered in 1905 by German scientists that the
bacterium Treponema pallidum caused the infection. In the early stages, the infection will have
minimal to no symptoms. With time, the infection will progress and can affect various systems
in the body and can lead to severe effects.

Transmission Of Syphilis

Syphilis is only transmitted via direct contact with syphilis sores. The sores can develop on the
vagina, anus, penis and mouth. The infection is mainly sexually transmitted, meaning that you
can contract the infection via vaginal, anal, or oral sex or through direct genital-to-genital
contact. In addition, babies can contract the infection from their mother and this type of
syphilis is called congenital syphilis.
Contrary to myths, you cannot contract the infection by using some other’s eating utensils,
sharing a toilet or wearing the clothing of another person. This is because the bacteria that lead
to syphilis infection cannot live for much long time outside the human body.

Preventing Syphilis Infection

In the opinion of experts in free STD and HIV testing centers, practicing safe sex is the best way
to prevent syphilis infection. Make sure to use condoms during any type of sexual contact.
Moreover, it can be helpful to:

 Avoid sharing sex toys.

 Use a dental dam during oral sex.
 Get screened for sexually transmitted infections and discuss the results with your

Syphilis infection can also be transmitted via sharing injection needles. Therefore, do not share
needles while using injected drugs.

About the Author

Dr. Ghassan M. Al-Jazayrly, MD

A graduate of University of Aleppo Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Al-Jazayrly or, as he is colloquially known: Dr. AJ, is an oncologist and hematologist of a Complete Care Community Health Center (CCCHC) with more than 36 years of experience. In recent years, he’s been involved with a non profit organization known as Every Woman Counts (EWC) which provides free breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to California’s underserved populations in order to eliminate health disparities for low-income individuals.