Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that often has no symptoms. It can be passed on through oral sex, vaginal sex, anal sex (top or bottom), rimming, fingering and sharing sex toys. It can also be spread through intimate or skin-to-skin contact with someone who has syphilis.
There are a range of symptoms depending on the stage of syphilis infection and may range from sores, through to a rash and swollen glands. There may be no symptoms.
Condoms work well as a preventative measure from getting syphilis, however there is a chance you could still become infected. This is why it’s important to get tested regularly to ensure you’re clear.
The good news is that syphilis infections are completely curable with antibiotics.
In Western Australia the number of cases of syphilis among men who have sex with men (MSM) in the 2015/16 financial year have more than doubled* in comparison to the previous financial year.
Syphilis testing is via a blood test and swabs may be taken if you have sores. For those that are HIV positive, it’s recommended to get tested for syphilis every 3 months along with regular HIV blood tests.
Where to Get Tested
You can go to your GP and get a syphilis test as part of your routine STI testing or go to a sexual health clinic such as M Clinic (Specifically for MSM), South Terrace Clinic or Royal Perth Hospital Sexual Health Clinic.
*Source: Communicable Disease Control Directorate
• Total WA Syphilis notifications increased 142% from the 2014-15 Financial Year (107) to the 2015-16 Financial Year (259), and 171% higher than the 5 year mean (95.6)
• MSM metro notifications increased 152% from the 2014-15 Financial Year (65) to the 2015-16 Financial Year (164).