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Syphillis PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 25 February 2010 16:28


Syphilis (SIF·i·lis) is caused by the bacterium Treponema Pallidum. The incidence of syphilis has increased and decreased dramatically in recent years, and in the United States, health officials reported over 32,000 cases of syphilis in 2002. Between 2001 and 2002, the number of reported primary and secondary (P & S) syphilis cases increased 12.4 percent. Rates in women continued to decrease, and overall, the rate in men was 3.5 times that in women. This, in conjunction with reports of syphilis outbreaks in men who have sex with men (MSM), suggests that rates of syphilis in MSM are increasing.15

Syphilis is passed from person to person through direct contact with a syphilis sore. The first symptoms of syphilis infection may go undetected because they are very mild and disappear spontaneously. The initial symptom is a chancre (genital sore); it is usually a painless open sore that most often appears on the penis or around or in the vagina. It can also occur near the mouth, anus, or on the hands. Transmission of the organism occurs during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Pregnant women with the disease can pass it to the babies they are carrying.

If untreated, syphilis may go on to more advanced stages, including a transient rash and, eventually, can cause serious involvement of the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones, and joints. Chancres caused by syphilis make it easier to transmit and acquire HIV infection sexually. There is an estimated 2- to 5-fold increased risk of acquiring HIV infection when syphilis is present.

The full course of the disease can take years.  Penicillin remains the most effective drug to treat people with syphilis.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 March 2010 05:45
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