What is Syphilis?
Syphilis is a bacterial STI that if left untreated, goes through four stages that are increasingly hazardous to your health. The primary stage causes a sore on the infected area (usually a penis, vagina, anus or mouth), which will heal on its own – but the person is still infected. The secondary stage mimics flu-like symptoms. The latent stage involves no symptoms until entering the tertiary stage, which can lead to long-term damage to vital organs like the heart and brain, and eventually, to death.
How is it transmitted?
Transmission occurs when one person’s mucous membranes (the mouth, vagina, anus, penis tip, eyes) comes into contact with the pus of an infected sore. Someone is also contagious during the secondary stage, but less so during the other late stages. You can reduce your risk by using a latex barrier like a dental dam or condom for penetrative or oral sex, and not sharing sex toys unless you change condoms between partners.
Is there a vaccine?
There is no vaccine for syphilis, but during the early stages it is very treatable with antibiotics.