Syphilis: Prevention and risks
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To help prevent getting or passing on syphilis:
- correctly and consistently use condoms and dental dams during sexual activities
- avoid sexual contact with partners who have symptoms of syphilis infection
- talk to your partner(s) about their STI status and safer sex, and encourage them to get tested
- get tested regularly for syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) if you are sexually active
Risks of syphilis
Some symptoms or effects of syphilis can occur at any stage of infection, such as syphilis of the brain and nervous system (neurosyphilis). These can include:
- dizziness (vertigo)
- vision changes (ocular syphilis)
- coordination or balance problems (ataxia)
- hearing loss, ringing in the ears (otic syphilis)
- memory problems, personality changes (dementia)
Untreated syphilis can have severe impacts on health. Syphilis that is not treated for many years can damage:
- the brain
- the heart
- blood vessels
- the nervous system
Syphilis that is not treated for many years can eventually lead to death.
Syphilis can be transmitted to a baby during pregnancy or birth. This is called congenital syphilis.
Congenital syphilis can have severe health consequences.
Syphilis and HIV
Having syphilis can make it easier for you to get human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). If you are living with HIV that is not well treated (i.e. not virally suppressed), having syphilis can make it easier to transmit HIV to someone else.
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