Syphilis can be passed on through oral, vaginal or anal sex. It can also be passed from mother to baby during childbirth.
Syphilis has three stages; primary, secondary and latent. Symptoms depend on the stage of the infection.
Primary syphilis causes an ulcer at the site of infection and swelling of lymph glands. This occurs within the first three months of infection. The ulcer is highly infectious but it is painless and usually disappears without treatment, or may not be noticed at all.
Secondary syphilis can cause skin problems (usually a rash) and swelling of lymph glands anywhere in the body. This usually occurs within the first 6 months of infection. The rash will get better without treatment.
Latent syphilis is what happens more than two years after infection. Many people experience serious consequences at this stage, when syphilis can affect bones, skin, heart or central nervous system and may be life threatening.
The test for syphilis is a blood sample.
If you are getting a test in clinic, this is usually from a nurse who will take a blood sample with a needle.
If you're doing one of our postal STI tests, the syphilis test is also done via a finger prick. You can watch the blood test instruction video and follow this link to see the instruction leaflet that comes in the kit.
Syphilis may take twelve weeks to show up in a test from the time of infection. If you are in any doubt about window periods, you should do a test now, and another test at a later date.
If you have had syphilis in the past, it's also worth knowing that some tests (such as rapid tests or postal tests), might always come back positive for syphilis, even if you've been treated. If you have had a previous infection, we can run extra tests to see if it's a recent or old infection that's been treated.
As soon as your test results become available, we will send you a text message to let you know how to get treatment.
Syphilis is treated effectively by antibiotic injections or tablets. The length of treatment depends on the stage of infection.
The effects of latent syphilis on the bones, skin, heart and central nervous system may be serious.
For more information on Syphilis click here