According to the National Institutes of Health, there has been a resurgence of syphilis in the United States over the past decade - with over 115,000 reported cases in 2018 alone [1]. If you happen to be one of thousands who has tested positive for the infection - it’s crucial to get the correct treatment to avoid any problems down the line.

Some of the long-term damage that syphilis can cause includes:

  • Neurological problems
  • HIV
  • Congenital syphilis

See also: Syphilis: Causes and Symptoms


What complications are associated with untreated syphilis?


If syphilis goes untreated, it can result in serious damage throughout the body. Some of the long-term damage associated with syphilis include:

See also: Can Syphilis be Cured?


Neurological problems


It’s possible for syphilis to infect the nervous system during any stage of the infection - this is typically referred to as neurosyphilis and can cause a number of problems, such as [2]:

  • Stroke
  • Meningitis
  • Visual problems
  • Dementia
  • Cardiovascular problems

HIV


The genital sores caused by syphilis sometimes bleed making it easier for HIV to be transmitted during sexual contact. It’s estimated that there is a two to five-fold increased risk of contracting HIV if exposed to HIV while syphilis is present [3].


Congenital syphilis


Congenital syphilis is a form of syphilis that occurs when a mother with syphilis passes it on to her child during pregnancy - this is in fact one of the most preventable causes of stillbirth globally [4].

See also: Congenital Syphilis: What you Should Know


Regularly screening your sexual health should always be top of your priority list when it comes to your health and happiness. One of the easiest ways to do this is by visiting your local doctor or by taking a lab test from the comfort of your own home.

LetsGetChecked’s range of at-home STI tests check for some of the most common sexually transmitted infections - including syphilis, with online results available in 2-5 days.

You should consider taking a test if:

  • You should also consider getting tested if:
  • You become sexually active
  • You have had unprotected sex
  • You are experiencing symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection
  • You are entering into a new sexual relationship
  • You have received a notification from a previous partner that they are infected (STIs can remain dormant for years and/ or take up to three weeks to become detectable.)


References

  1. National Institutes of Health. Resurgence of Syphilis in the United States: An Assessment of Contributing Factors. Online: Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, 2019
  2. Mayo Clinic. Syphilis. Online: Mayoclinic.org, 2019
  3. Gail Bolan. Syphilis and HIV: A Dangerous Duo Affecting Gay and Bisexual Men. Online: Hiv.gov, 2012
  4. World Health Organization. WHO publishes new estimates on congenital syphilis. Online: Who.int, 2019