Syphilis Overview

Syphilis is another kind of sexually transmitted disease (STD) which is caused by the bacteria Treponema pallidum. This disease is mostly transmitted through sexual contact (vaginal, oral, and anal). In some cases, the disease is also spread through close physical contact and prolonged kissing. Syphilis can also be transmitted from an infected pregnant woman to her unborn baby.

syphilis overviewSyphilis infection starts as a sore just like most sexually transmitted diseases. It spreads through a lesion of the skin and mucous membranes and affects the sex organs, rectum, or lips and mouth. Once a person gets infected, the Treponema pallidum bacteria can stay inactive in the body for years before activating itself again. A syphilis infection, when detected early, can be treated right away with penicillin. However, if the infection is not treated, syphilis can spread to other organ systems such as the heart and brain and cause life-threatening health problems.

The communities that are mostly contaminated with the syphilis infection are the African Americans and Latinos. Cases of syphilis are relatively higher in these communities, not because of their race or ethnicity, but it is due to lesser and limited access to health care. These communities also experience poverty, drug abuse and unemployment which add to the increasing cases of the disease.

Based on statistics, women aged 15 to 30 years and men aged 15 to 50 are mostly affected with syphilis. Men who have sex with other men also have a relatively higher chance of getting the syphilis infection.

In the year 1940, the cure for syphilis, penicillin, was discovered. From that year onwards, the rate of syphilis cases in the United States have been dropping most especially during the year 1990 up to year 2000. At present, the number of cases for syphilis infection has started to rise again although this rate is still relatively low.