What is Syphilis?

Syphilis is a bacterial infection which can be life-threatening if left undetected and untreated.  Getting tested for syphilis with Better2Know is quick and easy.  It is highly recommended for everyone who is sexually active.  Syphilis is easy to catch and pass on to other sexual partners as the bacteria that cause it are present in the genital tracts of both men and women, as well as in the sores of Chancres that are associated with the disease.

Sores occur mainly on the external genitals, vagina, anus, or in the rectum. Congenital Syphilis causes irreversible health problems, or even death, in as many as 40% of all live babies born to women with an untreated infection.

How is it transmitted?

Syphilis is an STI, which is passed from person to person through direct bodily contact. It is commonly transmitted via oral, vaginal or anal intercourse with an infected person, or through contact with a visible sore or Chancre.

How will I know if I have it?

Many patients with a syphilis infection can go for years without showing any symptoms, but they remain at risk of late complications if they are left untreated.

There are four stages of a Syphilis infection: Primary, Secondary, Latent and Tertiary.

Primary is marked by a sore or Chancre that, left untreated, progresses to the Secondary stage.

A patient with secondary Syphilis can develop symptoms that include rashes, fever, swollen glands, sore throat, hair loss, headaches, and muscle aches.

Latent Syphilis progresses unknown to the patient, eventually damaging internal organs, including the brain, nerves, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones, and joints.

Tertiary syphilis can cause problems with movement, numbness and vision. This stage can also lead to death.


A small blood sample is required for the test, which can be taken individually or combined with other STI tests as part of an STI Screen.


Syphilis is curable and can be treated with a course of antibiotics. You should abstain from sexual intercourse until your treatment is finished, and ensure that your sexual partners are also tested and treated to avoid reinfection.

Adverse Consequences

An untreated Syphilis case can be fatal. There is also an increased risk of contracting other STIs, such as HIV, as the immune system is weaker, hence the importance of regular testing.

There can be further complications for pregnant women, including: miscarriages, premature births, stillbirths, or even death for new-born babies. There is also risk of deformities, delays in development, or seizures, along with many other problems like rash, fever, swollen liver and spleen, anaemia, and jaundice. If it is undiagnosed in infants, it can cause damage to their bones, teeth, eyes, ears, and brain.