Three-quarters of the syphilis cases diagnosed in England are gay men (and other men who have sex with men). Syphilis symptoms don’t always appear right away. That’s why it’s important that gay men get tested regularly if they change sexual partners frequently.
What are the symptoms of syphilis?
Symptoms to look out for include
- A painless ulcer (sore) on the penis, vulva, mouth or anus.
- A rash over your entire body
- A rash affecting the palms of your hands or the soles of your feet.
- Wart-like growths around the anus or vulva
- Any unusual unexplained symptom such as headaches, loss of hearing or vision.
If left untreated, syphilis can spread to your brain, heart, eyes and bones and cause serious long term problems. Early treatment prevents any long term issues. All pregnant women are screened for syphilis as it can be passed from mother to child if not treated.
The recommended treatment for syphilis is penicillin (an antibiotic). Sypillis treatment is given as an injection into your buttocks (arse cheeks). If caught early, only one treatment is needed. We’ll recommend longer syphilis treatment if the infection been present for longer than 2 years or is affecting the nervous system (brain, nerves, eyes). It is important not to have sex until the treatment is completed.