Sexual & General Health

Syphilis is back ... and it's here in the south west

Syphilis is caused by a highly infectious bacteria – it is much easier to pick up than HIV.

Syphilis is currently increasing amongst gay men more rapidly than any other sexually transmitted infection (STI). Gay men in Wiltshire and Swindon have been and continue to be infected, mostly through oral and anal sex.

You can be tested. You can be cured. If left untreated, syphilis can lead to mental illness, blindness, heart disease, or even death.

WHAT? Syphilis is a bacterial infection. Even if you've had syphilis in the past and been treated, you can still get it again.

WHERE? Syphilis initially infects the penis (cock), anus (arse) or mouth. In time, it can spread to affect most parts of the body.

HOW? Syphilis is passed amongst gay men by unprotected anal sex, oral sex, genital contact and occasionally by kissing.

SYMPTOMS Syphilis does not always have symptoms. If there are symptoms, these might include sores (which are typically not painful) in the genital area, cock, throat or arse. The sores are highly infectious, though they will disappear within 2 to 6 weeks. However you will still be infectious! You may also go on to develop a rash on the body and could have flu-like symptoms.

PROTECT YOURSELF If you suck or fuck, use a condom. This will reduce your risk. As syphilis can produce a rash or sores, avoid coming into contact with both.

CURE If treated early, syphilis can be completely cured with a course of antibiotics. The longer it is left, the harder it is to treat. If left untreated, syphilis can lead to mental illness, blindness, heart disease, or even death.

For more information, please contact us.


National Sexual Health Line 0800 567 123

To book a syphilis test, contact one of the Sexual Health Clinics on this page

You can also read about Syphilis in our STI guide