Syphilis is a potentially deadly sexually transmitted infection caused by a germ, such as bacteria. We provide syphilis testing, prevention, care, treatment and community support.
In 2012, BC experienced the highest number of syphilis cases in over 30 years. Recent cases have predominantly occurred among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM), many of whom are also HIV positive.
Most people who are diagnosed have no symptoms. Those who do typically show:
- A painless sore around the genitals, mouth, rectum or vagina
- A rash that can occur on the chest, palms of the hands and soles of the feet
If the sore is present, syphilis can be spread through direct contact with it, such as through oral, anal or vaginal sex. Both the rash and the sore will go away on their own even without treatment, though the person will still be infected by the illness.
- Regular use of condoms will reduce the risk of picking up or passing on both syphilis and HIV, though contact with a sore outside of the area covered by a condom can still cause syphilis infection.
- Syphilis is often passed along by people who don’t have symptoms and who don’t know they are infected.
- If you are sexually active get tested every three to six months.
- Don’t have sex with someone if they have symptoms or if they are being treated for syphilis until their treatment is complete.
Syphilis can be cured with antibiotics but if left untreated, syphilis can progress to a late stage that causes serious health problems. The bacteria can cause serious health concerns including blindness, mental illness, problems with the heart and nervous system and even death.
You can get tested at VCH community health centres, at your family doctor, or to find a clinic near you check out Smart Sex Resource.
Testing is provided both by appointment and on a drop-in basis. It is best to call ahead to check whether an appointment is necessary.
We provide testing for sexually transmitted illnesses, treatment for sexually transmitted illnesses, risk reduction counseling and referrals to other support services depending upon need.
Testing is free and available to anyone.