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Syphilis a Sexually Transmitted Disease


Updated December 28, 2006

Other Names for Syphilis
Treponema pallidum

What is Syphilis?
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease that appeared suddenly in the 1400s. Syphilis is caused by a bacteria called Treponema pallidum. The bacteria like the warm moist linings of the genital passages, the rectum and mouth, but dies quickly outside the body. Syphilis has an incubation period of between 9 days and 3 months. Syphilis is almost always a result of unprotected sex with an infected person.
Syphilis is a disease of four stages. This means that syphilis progresses through a primary stage, a secondary stage, a latent stage and eventually to a tertiary stage.

Transmission of Syphilis
Transmission occurs most frequently by sexual contact with an infected person.
Syphilis can be inherited and congenital syphilis can be transmitted to the fetus during any stage in pregnancy. Congenital syphilis can cause stillbirth, deformity and hidden infection that becomes evident later in life. If syphilis is acquired in the 4 years before pregnancy 70% of the fetus's will be infected.
Syphilis cannot be spread from toilet seats, towels, cups or cutlery.

Syphilis Statistics
Syphilis is widespread in the United States but is more common in the south. Syphilis primarily involves sexually active men between 20-29 years of age.
Statistics vary from state to state, county to county. The increased concerns about AIDS have led to an increased awareness of the dangers of unprotected sex and safe sex practices such as condom use.This has resulted in an recent overall decrease in the incidence of syphilis in the US.
The rates of syphilis have decreased in all racial and ethnic groups.

Further Information About Sexually Transmitted Infections

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection
Chlamydia Syphilis
Genital Herpes (Herpes Simplex Virus HSV)
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

For more information About STDs
Contact the National STD and AIDS Hotline 1-800-227-8922 or 1-800-342-2437 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)

More About Sexually Transmitted Diseases & Men's Health

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