Get Tested for Syphilis

What is syphilis?

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

It can be spread during any type of sexual activity with a person who has the infection.

This includes anal, oral or vaginal sex, even genital rubbing. It is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact with an infected area.

Why should I care?

Syphilis can cause serious health problems if left untreated.

The infection will continue to cause damage until it’s treated, and it’s highly infectious.

If left untreated long term, syphilis can spread throughout the body and damage the brain, vision, heart, bones and more.

It can also be passed on to a baby during pregnancy. This can cause miscarriage, early birth and infant death. Babies born with syphilis can also have serious health problems.

How do I know if I have it?

Syphilis does have some symptoms, but they can be easily missed.

The first symptom is usually a painless sore (this sore will pass). The sore can appear in the mouth, anus, penis, vagina or cervix. It looks like a roundish area of broken skin. Even though the sore will heal by itself, the syphilis infection will remain until treated.

Another symptom is a red rash on the body including the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Other symptoms could include a fever, hair loss, swelling of the glands in the armpits and groin.

The only way to know for sure is to get tested.

A syphilis test is a blood test.


Who needs to get tested?

  • Anyone who has a new sexual partner.

  • Anyone who has had sex without a condom.

  • Anyone who is pregnant.

  • Anyone who has signs or symptoms of genital infection, an unusual sore or an unexplained rash.

  • Anyone who has been diagnosed with another STI or whose sexual partner has been diagnosed with an STI.

What do I do if I have it?

Syphilis can be treated – it’s a curable infection!

Because of the way syphilis can harm the body, it’s really important to get treatment straight away.

Your doctor or health worker can help you with the next steps.

If you have questions, SHINE SA’s free Sexual Healthline is available!


Where can I get tested?

Syphilis is now part of a regular sexual health check.

Next time you’re getting a check up, ask to include syphilis testing.

Want to get tested?

Find out more

Call our Sexual Healthline

Talk to a SHINE SA nurse for free on our confidential Sexual Healthline.
The Sexual Healthline is open Monday - Friday, 9:00am - 12:30pm

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