Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria. It is easy to get from an infected partner through unprotected oral, anal or vaginal sex. It can also be transmitted through contact with sores, lesions or body fluids of a person who has syphilis. This can include kissing and any other skin to skin contact including fingering, rimming (licking someone’s ass hole) and fisting.
If you are having any sexual activity, you should consider testing for syphilis. The window period for syphilis is the time between when a person first gets a syphilis infection and when the test will show that they have it. For syphilis, the window period is four weeks. Syphilis can be cured with antibiotics.
As with many sexually transmitted infections, you may not notice any symptoms. If a person did notice any, the first symptom might be a painless sore (called a “chancre”) at the site of infection (for example, on or around the anus, penis, mouth or vagina) appearing a few days to a few months after infection. This sore heals on its own, though the bacteria remain active in the body. The second symptom might be a rash a few weeks or months after the chancre first appeared. In some cases, the rash may appear on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Again, the rash heals on its own although the bacteria remain active in the body. If untreated, syphilis may result in damage to the brain, nervous system, and other organs.
If you are having any sexual activity, you should consider being tested for syphilis. Syphilis can be cured with antibiotics.
Having syphilis can make it easier to get HIV, or to transmit HIV. Having HIV can cause syphilis to get worse more rapidly in people who have both infections.
You can help to protect yourself against syphilis by using condoms or other barrier methods during oral, anal or vaginal sex. You can get a blood test for syphilis at the same time you are getting tested for HIV. Syphilis can be cured with antibiotics.
For more information call the AIDS and Sexual Health InfoLine at 1-800-668-2437 (English and multilingual line) or 1-800-267-7432 (French line) or check out the Resources section of this site.